Millions of iPhones at risk of being seized in Iran

By

An alley in an old part of Kish Island, Iran, by Ako Salemi
Apple must register its iPhones in Iran, or risk being banned.
Photo: Quixotic54/Flickr CC

Iranian officials have issued an ultimatum to Apple: telling the company that it must officially register in Iran or have its products banned.

“If Apple will not register an official representative in Iran within the next few days, all iPhones will be collected from the market,” the local Tasnim News Agency quotes the director of Iran’s anti-smuggling office as having said.

Although negotiations have reportedly been going on, Apple does not yet officially sell iPhones in Iran. Despite this, millions of iPhones are being used in the country — after being imported by smugglers.

Launched by the president’s office, the new anti-smuggling project would seek to ban these phones, along with any others that have entered the country illegally. The scheme orders that all mobile phones must be registered with Iran’s telecommunications database. According to a representative from the anti-smuggling office, there is no legal limitation to Apple registering a store in Iran.

Although cracking down on smuggled goods sounds sensible on paper, however, some IT activists in the country are upset at the news — pointing out that not only will seizing millions of iPhones be difficult, but that the initiative also raises potential security concerns.

Last year, the maker of messaging app Telegram had his creation blocked in Iran on the basis that, allegedly, he refused to help authorities to spy on their own citizens. Iranian officials previously stated that tech companies could only offer their apps if they respect Iran’s “cultural rules and policies,” and did not aid in the sharing of “immoral content.”

Source: Japan Times