Apple removes Iranian apps, citing U.S. sanctions

Apple removes Iranian apps, citing U.S. sanctions
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Apple is aggressively taking Iranian-based apps out of its App Store, citing U.S. sanctions against the country.

Over the last several days, the Cupertino, Calif.-based technology giant has removed apps created by developers based in Iran from its mobile app store. The now-removed programs include ride-hailing app Snapp, meal delivery app Delion and online store Digikala.

The Associated Press reported that Iranian authorities say all apps from developers based in the country have been removed from the App Store.

“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 its email to developers affected by the changes, obtained by The New York Times. “This area of law is complex and constantly changing. If the existing restrictions shift, we encourage you to resubmit your app for inclusion on the App Store.”

Apple did not respond to The Hill’s request for comment.

Iran’s new telecommunications minister, Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi, criticized Apple's decision to remove the apps in a tweet, saying that he would look into the matter.

“11 percent of the cellphone market in Iran belongs to Apple,” he wrote, according to a New York Times translation. “Respecting customer rights is a principle today that Apple hasn’t abided by. We will legally pursue the omission of apps.”

As Apple takes Iranian apps down, their Android counterparts remain untouched so far in the Google Play app store.

"As a U.S. company, we remain committed to full compliance with U.S. export controls and sanctions,” a Google spokesperson said. “We remain equally committed to continue exploring how we can help more people around the globe use technology to communicate, find and create information."

The spokesperson declined to speak specifically on the apps referenced, but did note the company has made free apps and games available on its Google Play app store in the country, in compliance with U.S. sanctions.