Government officials in Iran have threatened to ban iPhones from the country, and ‘collect’ existing ones, unless Apple appoints an official representative in the country.

“If Apple will not register an official representative in Iran within the next few days, all iPhones will be collected from the market,” Tasnim News Agency quoted the director of Iran’s anti-smuggling office as having said on Sunday.

The move is said to be aimed at countering the smuggling of smartphones into the country …

Japan Times reports that the government will require all mobile phones to be registered with Iran’s telecommunications user database, and will ban the use of non-registered phones.

Mobile operators, customs and the union of mobile phone sellers are all said to be cooperating with the project, but the move is likely to raise concerns about the use to which the data may be put. Amnesty International’s annual report on Iran says that the government has ‘severely curtailed the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly, arresting and imprisoning journalists, human rights defenders, trade unionists and others who voiced dissent, on vague and overly broad charges.’

The Tehran IT union has also expressed concern about the risks of the database being hacked.

U.N. sanctions against Iran limit the ability of U.S. companies to sell their products in Iran, though Apple last year started discussions with Iranian distributors in the hope that sanctions will be eased this year.

We have asked Apple to comment on the report, and will update if we get a response.

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Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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