Technology

Apple Inc. Removes Iranian Apps From App Store Due To U.S. Sanctions

Apple’s App Store offers great apps that also earn revenue for the company. Despite this, the company has been removing a number of popular Iranian apps over the past few weeks, and now, it says U.S. sanctions require it to do so.

Iranian app
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U.S. sanctions blamed for removing every Iranian app

Certain shopping and food delivery apps were removed in the previous weeks. But now, reports claim that Apple is taking even more aggressive action to remove Iranian apps. For instance, on Thursday, The New York Times reported that the U.S. firm removed a popular Uber-like Iranian app from the App Store.

Another popular Iranian app that was recently pulled down was DelionFoods, an online food delivery service company. Its founder, Mahdi Taghizadeh, is furious about it and is protesting on Twitter, where he started a campaign called #StopRemovingIranianApps. Ironically, Twitter is blocked by the Iranian government, but users have found a way to access it in the country.

Many developers have been affected by this, and Apple has offered them this explanation: “Under the U.S. sanctions regulations, the App Store cannot host, distribute or do business with apps or developers connected to certain U.S. embargoed countries.”

In response to Apple’s action, Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi, Iran’s telecommunications minister, tweeted, “11 percent of the cell-phone market in Iran belongs to Apple. Respecting customer rights is a principle today that Apple hasn’t abided by. We will legally pursue the omission of apps.”

It is interesting to note that the minister also took to Twitter to express his displeasure.

No such action from Google

According to the Times, Apple is not operating any official businesses in Iran due to the U.S. sanctions. It cannot even have an Iranian App Store. A noteworthy fact here is that iPhones are in high demand in the country, so millions of devices are smuggled into the country. Thus, developers use the App Stores of other countries to create and share their apps.

Google does not impose any such restrictions on Android developers, provided the apps do not involve purchase transactions made in the country. Until now, the search giant hasn’t taken any action on the Iranian apps available in the Play Store. Facebook and YouTube are blocked by the Iranian government as well.

Apple’s recent action can be seen as an extension of its earlier efforts when it restricted the Iranian apps with in-app transactions, citing non-compliance with the Iranian Transactions Sanctions Regulations. Digikala, an online e-commerce service, was one of many Iran-based iOS apps that were pulled in January. Following this, several app makers moved to the Iranian online payments system Shaparak, cash and other available forms of payment.

Apple’s stance on Iranian apps follows another recent crackdown in China on virtual private network (VPN) apps that were being openly marketed on the Chinese iOS App Store. At the time, CEO Tim Cook clarified that they were following the policy guidelines set by Chinese regulators.

“We would obviously rather not remove the apps, but like we do in other countries we follow the law wherever we do business,” Cook said.