Responding to a public outcry begun on the blog of MAD Magazine cartoonist Tom Richmond, Apple has reversed its decision to reject the Bobble-Rep iPhone app, which features caricatures of and contact information for every member of the U.S. Congress.
In his post from November 9th, Richmond, who created the program's artwork, revealed an email sent from the iPhone Developer Program to the project's development team. In the message, the Apple representative said Bobble-Rep "contains content that ridicules public figures and is in violation of Section 3.3.14 from the iPhone Developer Program License Agreement." The cited section states that apps may not contain "materials that may be considered obscene, pornographic, or defamatory."
While the ability to openly parody public figures has been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, Apple took its own stance as a private company. What particularly angered critics of Apple's initial decision was that the caricatures feature all 540 public officials regardless of their political affiliation, barring it from being seen as a partisan attack. Furthermore, the application provides a system by which constituents can identify and contact their representatives, either by typing in a location or using the handset's GPS functionality, which many saw as a positive, civic action.
Apple cleared Bobble-Rep for release on Saturday without comment or explanation, and it is now available from the iTunes App store for 99 cents.