“Politically Charged” iPhone App Denied?

It appears, according to the App’s developer, that the App known as “iSinglePayer” has been denied by Apple for being “politically charged.  (Lambdajive via Daring Fireball via Engadget)  I’m not sure what to make of it, as the purported developer (I think it’s Floatopia?) has a website, floatopia.org, and the App doesn’t show up there.  But whatever, the story goes like this: iSinglePayer purports to show Americans what we pay in health costs versus other countries, and provides a location-aware Congressional contact mechanism.  And that appears to be just about it.

Putting aside the legitimate gripe that other politically-themed Apps have been approved, it’s a bothersome development that makes me recall when NARAL had problems with Verizon and some mass text messages.  Though Verizon eventually reversed course, the issue was this: NARAL, an abortion-rights interest group, wanted the ability to have a “short code” which would allow individuals interested in a particular subject get updates about it.  Verizon initially rejected the request, saying that “it ‘does not accept issue-oriented (abortion, war, etc.) programs — only basic, general politician-related programs (Mitt Romney, Hillary Clinton, etc.)'” but eventually relented, blaming the froo-frah on “’an incorrect interpretation of a dusty internal policy’” that ‘was designed to ward against communications such as anonymous hate messaging and adult materials sent to children.'”  That dusty internal policy was conceived “’before text messaging protections such as spam filters adequately protected customers from unwanted messages.’”  (Source: NY Times.)

Whatever happens with the App, which at least is garnering attention if not downloads, private blocking of speech based on content is going to be something that we’re going to have to wrestle with as a society as we move forward in our interconnected ways.  This won’t be the last time something like this happens, that’s for sure.