Apple removes Iranian apps to comply with US sanctions

By Technology FOXBusiness

The Apple Inc. store is seen on the day of the new iPhone 7 smartphone launch in Los Angeles, California, U.S., September 16, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (Copyright Reuters 2017)

Apple (AAPL) removed several Iranian apps from its app store this week in order to comply with U.S. sanctions against the country, in a move that drew criticism from Iran’s telecommunications minister, the New York Times reported.

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The tech giant removed ride-sharing app Snapp, as well as apps related to online shopping and food delivery, according to the report. Apple previously warned Iranian developers last February to remove payment options from its apps given the U.S. economic sanctions.

“Under the U.S. sanctions regulations, the App Store cannot host, distribute or do business with apps or developers connected to certain U.S. embargoed countries,” Apple said in a statement to Iranian developers.

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While Apple has no official presence in Iran, the New York Times notes that Iranians have acquired “millions” of iPhones through third parties. An estimated 48 million smartphones have been sold in Iran, according to TechRasa, an Iranian technology website.

The U.S. has levied a host of sanctions against Iran due to its nuclear weapons program. President Trump added additional sanctions last July, though it’s unclear if Apple’s decision to remove the apps is related to that development.

Iranian telecommunications minister Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi criticized the decision on Twitter, stating that Apple owns “11% of the cellphone market in Iran.”

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“Respecting customer rights is a principle today that Apple hasn’t abided by,” Jahromi said. “We will legally pursue the omission of apps.”

Iran blocks several major social media sites, including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

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