Apple has allegedly started removing apps originating in Iran from the App Store. According to Techrasa, Apple removed the app of Digikala, the biggest Iranian e-commerce service, a few days ago. Apple has yet to comment on the procedure but it seems to stem from international trade laws (via TechCrunch).
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Apple started opening up the App Store to users in Iran in September of 2016, gradually lifting limitations that had previously been in place. While there is still no official App Store in the country, developers in Iran often register their apps as being from other countries to get around that limitation.
The aforementioned e-commerce app Digikala uses the Shaparak payment system, which is isolated from international systems and thus does not contradict Apple’s terms and conditions for developers. Nevertheless, it has been removed as part of this seemingly new policy.
On the other hand, many Iranian banks have iOS apps that are side-loaded onto devices to avoid violating those terms and conditions.
With Apple clamping down on app submissions from Iran, the company has started presenting the following message to developers when they attempt to upload apps:
“Unfortunately, there is no App Store available for the territory of Iran. Additionally, apps facilitating transactions for businesses or entities based in Iran may not comply with the Iranian Transactions Sanctions Regulations (31CFR Part 560) when hosted on the App Store. For these reasons, we are unable to accept your application at this time. We encourage you to resubmit your application once international trade laws are revised to allow this functionality.”
At this point, specifics of Apple’s app removal process in Iran are unclear. It’s not explicitly known if all apps from Iranian startups and developers are being removed, or if it’s only apps that facilitate transactions.
Apple’s App Store has been a point of contention in several countries. For instance, Apple last month removed the New York Times app from the App Store in China at the request of the government.
As the situation with Iranian apps unfolds we’ll be sure to update, but for now, we’re left speculating as to the extent of the removal process.