Apple rejects Mad artist's iPhone caricature app

Company's App Store rejection process is the center of attention once again, thanks to its denial of an app for how it depicts members of the 111th Congress.

Don Reisinger
CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
2 min read

A Mad Magazine contributor has been told by Apple that his iPhone app featuring drawings and contact information of members of the 111th Congress has been rejected because it depicts politicians in an objectionable light.

iPhone app
Richmond's iPhone app in action. Tom Richmond

According to Tom Richmond, who wrote about his app's rejection on his personal blog, his app--dubbed Bobble Rep-111th Congress Edition--in no way should have been construed as objectionable.

Richmond said that the focus of the app was to create a "database of all the members of the United States Congress which allowed the user to find the names and contact information of their senators and congressional representative either via Zip code or by using the iPhone's GPS location services." Rather than use the politicians' individual portraits, the app depicts each senator and representative in caricature form, which Richmond drew himself. All told, the app features 540 caricatures of the politicians.

Using the app, each politician's head is placed on one of 12 bodies. When iPhone owners shake their phone or flick the politician's head with their finger, their head bobbles around. As Richmond pointed out, the feature was "just a novelty, and the real purpose of the app is the database that allows you to find out who your representatives in Washington are and how to contact them."

After Apple's vetting process, however, Richmond and the others involved in developing the app learned it had been rejected.

"Thank you for submitting Bobble Rep - 111th Congress Edition to the App Store," the rejection letter from Apple read. "We've reviewed Bobble Rep - 111th Congress Edition and determined that we cannot post this version of your iPhone application to the App Store because it contains content that ridicules public figures and is in violation of Section 3.3.14 from the iPhone Developer Program License Agreement."

Another shot of Richmond's iPhone app. Tom Richmond

Section 3.3.14 of the license agreement says that apps can be rejected "if they contain content or materials of any kind (text, graphics, images, photographs, sounds, etc.) that in Apple's reasonable judgment may be found objectionable, for example, materials that may be considered obscene, pornographic, or defamatory."

Apple did not provide any more details on why the app was rejected. It also hasn't immediately responded to request for comment.

In his own defense, Richmond said that Apple's ruling is "truly ridiculous." He wrote on his blog that the "caricatures aren't mean or very exaggerated. They are simple, fun cartoon likenesses of the politicians and the purpose of the app is a informational database. There is no editorial commentary involved at all."

Then, like many of the developers who received rejection notices in the past for questionable reasons, Richmond said that Apple "should be taken to task over its ludicrous and inconsistent app approval policies."

If you want to see more images of the app, click here. After that, let us know what you think about this rejection in the comments below. Was it warranted? Were the caricatures unfair? Let's hear from you.