Apple is aggressively shutting down Iranian-based apps, reportedly citing adherence to US sanctions against the country. But now, reports claim that Apple is taking even more aggressive action to remove Iranian apps.
The apps which initially were removed were Delion (food delivery service), DigiKala (retailer), AloPeyk (parcel delivery service), Takhfifan (group buying website), and Alibaba (online travel agency). 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.
Apple told developers, "Under the USA sanctions regulations, the App Store can not host, distribute, or do business with apps or developers connected to certain US embargoed countries", according to The Times. Apple said it focused on removing apps that could potentially send Iranian money into Apple's accounts.
"Giving respect to consumer rights is a principle today which Apple has not followed", Jahromi tweeted.
"We are unable to include your app on the App Store".
It is interesting to note that the minister also took to Twitter to express his displeasure. A noteworthy fact here is that iPhones are in high demand in the country, so millions of devices are smuggled into the country.
The OFAC email also said that in case the Iranian developers do not succeed in convincing Apple to bring back their software products back to the App Store, they can apply for exemption from the United States government.
Google does not impose any such restrictions on Android developers, provided the apps do not involve purchase transactions made in the country.
Google does not appear to have undertaken a similar campaign against apps in its Play Store.
In addition to blocking Twitter, the Iranian government has long blocked Facebook and YouTube.
The Associated Press reported that Iranian authorities say all apps from developers based in the country have been removed from the App Store. He has a history of advocating for online freedoms in Iran.
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.