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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