Apple has allegedly begun removing iOS apps originating in Iran from the App Store, according to reports over the weekend. Tech news site Techrasa posted a story claiming that the biggest e-commerce service, Digikala, had its app removed from the store a few days ago (Via TechCrunch).
The removal appears to relate to international trade laws. No official App Store exists for Iran, so Iranian startups and developers often register their apps as being outside the country to get onto the store.
Apple has been allowing the Iranian apps onto the App Store since September 2016. Digikala runs the Shaparak payment system which is totally isolated from international systems, so in theory it would not contravene Apple’s terms and conditions. Several Iranian banks also offer iOS apps that are side-loaded onto phones, notes TechCrunch.
The Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations issued by the U.S. Department of the Treasury puts blocks on the Iranian market, which is home to 82 million people, 40 million of which use smartphones. According to Techrasa, Apple has sent the following to Iranian startups attempting 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.”
It’s still not clear exactly what part of the regulations the apps have contravened. We’ll update this story if further details emerge in due course.
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