Apple removes Iranian apps citing U.S. sanctions

Posted August 26, 2017

Iranian media are reporting that Apple Inc. has removed all Iranian mobile apps from its App Store.

In reaction to Apple's message, Azari Jahromi said the company's response is not precise.

Iran is home to a vibrant developer market, which has given rise to apps like Snapp, an Uber-like, ride-hailing service that has "revolutionized the taxi industry", said Djavad Salehi-Isfahani, professor of economics at Virginia Tech and a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. With a market of millions of iPhone users in the country, a cottage industry has sprung up creating apps relevant to Iranians-apps that are sold in App Stores in other locals and accessed by Iranians who have an Apple ID in those foreign locals. Naturally this has led to the development of Iranian apps, several of which Apple has shut down in recent weeks.

Apple is pulling apps created by Iranian developers that are specifically designed for people in Iran from its App Stores to comply with USA sanctions, The New York Times reports.

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.

"Since Apple takes a cut of all App Store purchases, sales from Iranian apps generate revenue and are thus in violation of United States law", Apple said.

Taghizadeh has also protested the move with a #StopRemovingIranianApps campaign on Twitter, according to The Times. "If the existing restrictions shift, we encourage you to resubmit your app for inclusion on the App Store". We will follow up the cutting of the apps legally. Like Facebook and YouTube, Twitter is banned by the government in Iran, but determined Iranians still use it to connect with each other and the world at large.

In 2013, Barack Obama lifted a ban on USA companies selling communication equipment to Iran while remaining sanctions were gradually wound down after the 2016 nuclear agreement was reached. Digikala, an online e-commerce service, was one of many Iran-based iOS apps that were pulled in January. US legislation passed earlier this month imposed mandatory penalties on people involved in Iran's ballistic missile program and anyone who does business with them.