iCensorship

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Mark Fiore is a first rate political cartoonist who’s innovative use of Web animation won the self-syndicated lampooner a Pulitzer this week.

But while Fiore is the toast of the interwebs, you can’t see his work on your iPad. And not only because Steve Jobs broke the Internet with his dickish refusal to support the Flash player.

You are also prohibited from downloading Fiore’s NewsToons cartoon app from the App store. Because Apple’s censors rejected it. Because it makes proper use of the first amendment.

Just check out the letter the rejection letter Fiore got from the iPhone developer program.

Dear Mr. Fiore,

Thank you for submitting NewsToons to the App Store. We’ve reviewed NewsToons 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 which states:

“Applications may be rejected if they contain content or materials of any kind … that in Apple’s reasonable judgement may be found objectionable, for example, materials that may be considered obscene, pornographic, or defamatory.” …

If you believe that you can make the necessary changes so that NewsToons does not violate the iPhone Developer Program License Agreement, we encourage you to do so and resubmit it for review.

Regards,

iPhone Developer Program

This is, of course, absurd. The App Store already hosts applications from newspapers and magazines that regularly “ridicule public figures.” Indeed, ridiculing public figures is vital to public debate. It’s not defamatory. It’s democracy. And the exclusion of content like Fiore’s any mass-market platform is chilling.

Fortunately this is the kind of mistake that a company like Apple can be shamed out of. You can reach Apple’s Public Relations department at (408) 974-2042. Tell them iCensorship is iEvil.