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The Government Submitted A Stupid App To Apple Seemingly On Purpose

Remember the Cyber-Safety Help Button? You might remember it as Conroy’s Big Red Button that when pushed, directed kids to a website that told them how to stay safe online. It was a poorly thought out initiative to say the least, but wait until you hear what the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy did next.

Freedom of Information (FOI) papers released today reveal that the DBCDE actually tried to put the $100,000 Cybersafety Button (yep, it cost that much when all was said and done) into the Apple App Store. Not a bad idea if you want a bit more traction, but the app was essentially just a link out to the government’s cybersafety awareness website. That’s all. Nothing fancier than a hyperlink inside an app.

Apple don’t like you doing that sort of thing, and specifically states in its terms that you can’t just have something act as a link out to your external site — it has to actually use the features of iOS to qualify as an app. So when the DBCDE tried to do it, it naturally got knocked back by Cupertino.

Geordie Guy over on his blog reports Apple’s response to the government:

We found that the experience your app provides is not sufficiently different from a web browsing experience, as it would be by incorporating native iOS functionality.

That was stupid of DBCDE, but it doesn’t stop there. Turns out that the contractor who built the app with DBCDE thought Apple might reject it on these grounds before it was even submitted:

Bad news. Apple have rejected the app. Please see their full reasons below -it’s basically what we feared in the first place. Be good to get your thoughts on possible next steps.

Jesus wept.

It’s an especially poignant time to find out that the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (Conroy’s department) continued to flush money down the tubes with an irrelevant app that nobody would use even if it did get approved by Apple, seeing as how Treasurer Wayne Swan today announced that the government won’t hit its budget surplus next year.

I’m not about to get into government bashing here because the Opposition seem to have that covered, but what frustrates me is this part from the email about the app being rejected (emphasis added):

“Bad news. Apple have rejected the app. Please see their full reasons below — it’s basically what we feared in the first place. Be good to get your thoughts on possible next steps.”

“It’s basically what we feared in the first place”?? What the f**k is wrong with you that you’d submit an app on the taxpayer’s time and money that you knew lacked the functionality required to get it off the ground? That’s not only breathtakingly incompetent, but it’s also absurdly wasteful.

I’m not saying the government shouldn’t do absolutely everything in its power to help victims of bullying and so-called cyber-bullying — quite the opposite: it’s great to see the government acknowledging the problem — but releasing a $100,000 initiative that isn’t going to help anyone is a poor showing. Worse still is trying to push through something that’s barely an app knowing it would fail.

Must try harder, DBCDE. [DBCDE FOI response (.ZIP) via Geordie Guy]


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