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Develop and use a classification tool

What is a classification tool?

A classification tool (tool) is a questionnaire, computer program or other interface that allows a person or artificial intelligence to classify content. Industry can use approved tools to classify online films or computer games in Australia, instead of applying to the Classification Board.

Tools use algorithms and logic rules that reflect the criteria in the National Classification Scheme. This ensures tool decisions align with Australian legislation and Classification Board decisions.

When a tool has classified a film or computer game, it sends us the decision using an Application Processing Interface (API), and it is published on the National Classification Database (NCD).

Decisions made by approved tools are taken to be decisions of the Classification Board.

Approved classification tools

There are 3 tools approved for use in Australia:

  • IARC Global Rating Tool for mobile/online computer games
  • Netflix Classification Tool for online films and TV series
  • Spherex Classification Tool for online films and TV series.

Downloads

How do I develop a tool?

The department help industry to develop a tool and seek Ministerial approval. We also monitor and evaluate the performance of approved tools.

Developing a tool

An individual, entity or group can develop a tool.

We work with tool developers to:

  • program their tool logic
  • test the API and integration with the NCD
  • assess the accuracy of tool decisions against the criteria
  • execute contractual documents
  • seek ministerial approval of the tool.

Please contact us for more information on developing a tool.

Getting a classification tool approved

The Minister must approve a tool for use in Australia.

The tool approval guidelines contain matters that the Minister must consider when deciding to approve a tool. This includes that a tool must:

  • produce ratings and consumer advice that are consistent with Classification Board decisions
  • be able to refuse classification to content
  • respond to changes in the National Classification Scheme
  • give notice of decisions to the NCD.

The Minister can:

  • approve a tool with conditions
  • enter into an arrangement with the tool owner relating to the tool’s operation
  • vary the approval conditions upon mutual agreement with the tool owner
  • revoke the approval if the tool does not meet its conditions or obligations.

Once my tool is approved, what happens?

Using your tool

Once approved, tool owners and users can start submitting classification decisions through the API to the NCD. It is a timely and cost-effective option for classifying content.

A tool owner can also use these classification methods if they do not want to use their tool to classify a specific film or computer game:

Applying tool decisions to other formats

A tool decision for a film or computer game will apply in Australia to all other formats of that film or game, providing they are identical to the version classified by the tool.

You can learn more on our classify once webpage.

Getting an approved classification tool certificate

The Classification Board can issue an approved classification tool certificate (tool certificate) to developers and publishers if they need confirmation that a tool decision applies.

By applying for a tool certificate, the developer or publisher must declare that the versions are identical or any modifications are exempt from classification.

If the tool decision does not apply to other formats due to modifications not being exempt from classification, the Classification Board will not issue a tool certificate.

To apply for a tool certificate, please contact us.

Computer games classified using the IARC Global Rating Tool

IARC requires developers of computer games classified by the IARC Global Rating Tool to apply for a tool certificate. To start this process, please request a rating check via the IARC link included on the game's Live Rating Notice.

Please contact IARC if you have any questions about their processes and your obligations.

Monitoring and evaluating tools

We monitor and evaluate the performance of approved tools. This includes:

  • the Classification Board checking tool decisions
  • checking services display the rating and consumer advice
  • working with the tool owner to update tool logic where needed
  • evaluating the performance of the tool.

Checking tool decisions

The Classification Board may choose to check a tool decision:

  • upon request of a Minister, tool owner or publisher
  • if the rating is too high
  • if the rating is too low
  • if the consumer advice does not reflect the content.

The Classification Board may require the tool owner or publisher to provide access to the content (i.e. the film or the gameplay footage). You can provide it via:

  • a link to an online platform or website
  • Box
  • digital delivery, or
  • a physical copy delivered to the Classification Board’s office.

Revoking tool decisions

As a result of a check, the Classification Board can revoke a tool decision if it is of the view the content should have a different rating or consumer advice.

If the Classification Board revokes a decision, it will:

  • classify the content and produce a new decision
  • publish the new decision on the NCD
  • notify the tool owner of the new decision.