Reports coming out of Iran suggest that Apple has been removing Iranian apps from the App Store. According to Techrasa, Apple has already removed the app belonging to Digikala, the largest ecommerce startup in Iran and the Middle East, within the last few days.
As of yet, there is no official App Store in Iran – as a result, many companies register their apps as being from other countries to bypass the limitation. However, since September 2016, Apple had been, in a limited fashion, opening up its App Store to Iranians. It looks as if this supposed progression has now taken a few steps backward.
It is likely the problem lies within the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations (31 CFR Part 560) issued by the U.S. Department of the Treasury. According to Techrasa, Apple, in response to one of the Iranian startups, wrote:
"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."
Despite this, it is unclear whether Apple is removing all Iranian apps or just those facilitating transactions.
Recently, Apple removed the New York Times’ app from the App Store in China – following allegations, from the Chinese government, it had violated local regulations with its content.