Apple (AAPL) removed several Iranian apps from its app store this week in order to comply with USA sanctions against the country, in a move that drew criticism from Iran's telecommunications minister, the New York Times reported.
In February, Apple told Iranian developers to remove any payment options in their apps to prevent Iranian money from entering the United States, a violation of the sanctions.
Its founder, Mahdi Taghizadeh, is furious about it and is protesting on Twitter, where he started a campaign called #StopRemovingIranianApps.
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Now, Apple is moving aggressively to shut down Iranian apps. "Imagine if in the US you wouldn't be able to get Uber on your phone".
Iran is home to a vibrant developer market, which has given rise to apps like Snapp, an Uber-like, ride-hailing service that has "revolutionized the taxi industry", said Djavad Salehi-Isfahani, professor of economics at Virginia Tech and a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. But now, reports claim that Apple is taking even more aggressive action to remove Iranian apps.
The Office of Foreign Assets Control, the US Treasury Department's financial intelligence watchdog says Apple is not prohibited from hosting Iranian applications.
According to the Times, Iran's telecommunications minister Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi said that the country "will legally purse the omission of apps". His app was among those removed during the purge.
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"11 percent of the cellphone market in Iran belongs to Apple", he wrote according to a New York Times translation. He added: "Respecting customer rights is a principle today that Apple hasn't abided by".
They previously brought those apps to Apple's App Store, which Iranians accessed and used to download the programs. "If the existing restrictions shift, we encourage you to resubmit your app for inclusion on the App Store". Barack Obama's administration eased restrictions on US tech companies that offered Internet services in Iran as a way of encouraging a free flow of information, especially among younger Iranians.
In addition to blocking Twitter, the Iranian government has long blocked Facebook and YouTube.
Apple declined to comment on the issue to The New York Times.
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