Apple Removing Iranian Apps from Store, Citing U.S. Sanctions

Apple has started taking down Iranian iOS apps from the company’s App Store, citing U.S. sanctions against the country are to blame.

Iranian developers were alerted by Apple about the tech giant’s new efforts to take down apps made in the country, according to the New York Times.

“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,” Apple said in a message to affected companies.

The New York Times first reported the removal of a popular ride-sharing app called Snapp yesterday.

Due to existing American trade restrictions, there’s no official App Store available in Iran and iPhones aren’t even available for legal sale in the region. However, that hasn’t stopped startups from registering there Iranian-built apps to other countries to bypass the rules.

The founder of an online delivery service in Iran has already taken action by launching an online petition.

Mahdi Taghizade’s DelionFoods had his app removed from Apple’s online store. In a letter addressed to Apple’s Tim Cook, Taghizade asks the CEO to lift policies that limit Iran’s access to Apple products and services.

Taghizade writes Apple devices are used by six million people in Iran, making up 11 per cent of the country’s smartphone market.

“Having hundreds of talented iOS developers in Iran, there have been many widely successful Iranian applications on the App Store. Unfortunately, we have always been facing serious problems using international or even domestic applications via App Store,” he explained in the online petition.

Taghizade said Apple notified him of the immediate ban through an online message that concluded with: “This area of law is complex and constantly changing. If the existing restrictions shift, we encourage you to resubmit your app for inclusion on the App Store.”

This isn’t the first time Apple has removed applications from its store in a specific country. In July, the tech behemoth removed dozens of VPNs from China’s App Store, citing the apps didn’t meet new registering regulations.