Apple reportedly in ‘preliminary contact’ with distributors to bring iPhone to Iran

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The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple is in early talks with “Iranian distributors” to bring the iPhone to Iran:

Apple Inc. is in preliminary contact with Iranian distributors about a possible entry into the country should Western sanctions ease sufficiently, people familiar with the matter said.

The report notes that financial and banking sanctions as well as political tension has thus far prevented companies like Apple from conducting business in Iran, but points to a policy change in May that lifted the ban on sales of “consumer communications technologies” in the country. The report goes on the claim that “senior Apple executives” have already met with “potential Iranian distributors” at Apple’s regional headquarters in London. Read more

Apple Store employees get overzealous with Iranian export restriction, borders on racial profiling [Update]

UPDATE: On Tuesday, the Council on American-Islamic Relations and National Iranian American Council called upon Apple to change its policy and take appropriate steps to guarantee further enforcement of the policy will not impede on Iranian’s rights in the United States.

The press releases:

9to5Mac contacted Apple and the councils and will update again if they issue a comment. 

An Apple Store in Georgia apparently refused to sell iOS devices to an Alpharetta woman and her uncle, because they spoke Farsi to each other.

Sahar Sabet, 19, is a United States citizen and student at the University of Georgia. She and her uncle were recently shopping for an iPad and iPhone at an Apple Store in the North Pointe Mall. They were conversing in Farsi, a Persian-Iranian language, when an employee overheard them and asked what language they were speaking.

According to WSBTV, the woman answered, but then the Apple employee said, “I just can’t sell this to you. Our countries have bad relations.”

Another customer, Zack Jafarzadeh, apparently received the same treatment at a different Apple Store in the Perimeter Mall in Atlanta. He recently accompanied a friend who tried to buy an iPhone.

“We never talked about him going back to Iran or anything like that. He was just speaking full-fledged Farsi and the representative came back and denied our sale,” said Jafarzadeh to WSBTV. “I would say if you’re trying to buy an iPhone, don’t tell them anything about Iran. That would be your best bet.”

Sabet returned to the North Point Apple Store on Monday with WSBTV’s Amy Napier Viteri, and they caught the same employee describing an Apple policy on camera that allegedly prohibits the sale of products to Iranians. A manager even presented the duo with the policy, which said the exportation, sale, or supply of Apple products from U.S. to Iran is not allowed without prior authorization by the federal government. The manager explained Apple Stores have to “rely on customers to be honest.”

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Besides govts and the entertainment industry, Google cofounder sees FB and Apple as the biggest threat to the open Internet

In an interview with the Guardian over the weekend, Google cofounder Sergey Brin said:

[…]he was most concerned by the efforts of countries such as China, Saudi Arabia and Iran to censor and restrict use of the internet, but warned that the rise of Facebook and Apple, which have their own proprietary platforms and control access to their users, risked stifling innovation and balkanizing the web.” There’s a lot to be lost,” he said. “For example, all the information in apps – that data is not crawlable by web crawlers. You can’t search it.”

It is interesting that “lost” is defined above as “not crawlable by Google’s search engine.” Framing the argument—as “what is in the best interests of users” versus what Google wants—would probably have helped his case. We are supposed to think that it is just a coincidence the two biggest corporate threats to Google are also the two biggest threats to humanity/the Internet. (via Slashdot)

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Forbes profiles prolific Jailbreaker Comex

In a profile on Comex, the 19-year old who has on three different occasions cracked open the iPhone security completely, Forbes reveals the jailbreaker’s name and MO.  He’s Nicholas Allegra who lives with his parents in Chappaqua, New York and is on leave from Brown University.

On iPhone hacking, he says,

“It feels like editing an English paper,” Allegra says simply, his voice croaking as if he just woke up, though we’re speaking at 9:30 pm. “You just go through and look for errors. I don’t know why I seem to be so effective at it.”

His work has blown away his peers, if anyone can be labeled as such.

Dino Dai Zovi, co-author of the Mac Hacker’s Handbook, compares JailbreakMe’s sophistication to that of Stuxnet, a worm thought to have been designed by the Israeli or U.S. government to infect Iran’s nuclear facilities. He compares Allegra’s skills to the state-sponsored intruders that plague corporations and governments, what the cybersecurity industry calls “advanced-persistent threat” hackers: “He’s probably five years ahead of them,” says Dai Zovi.

Allegra says that 2 million iOS devices have been jailbroken with the third release of jailbreakme.com.  Forbes concludes, Apple should be offering up an internship to Allegra.

Internship?  How about a six figure salary and a corner office?
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