DigiKala iOS app gone because of sanctions, Iran’s marketplace off the App Store
Iran‘s largest e-marketplace used to be on the App Store. Not anymore.
The pariah country is not home to an Apple App Store, but Iranians with iPhones and iPads have been getting around trade sanctions with the US one way or another. As international credit card use is restricted to slim or nil, neither the app developers nor Apple get a share of whatever the app has to intrinsically offer.
In the case of the domestic e-commerce site DigiKala, where items are purchased through a domestic credit network (which does not violate sanctions), Apple has decided to take its app off stores worldwide. DigiKala’s site features an “Available in the App Store” badge with a link that now leads to a generic iTunes download page — check the source link for that.
TechRasa reports that Iranian companies are having trouble the US Department of Treasury’s Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations. Here’s what Apple wrote to one company:
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.
It really sucks that there isn’t a proper way for Iranians to access homegrown apps without risking malware infection by going to a third-party site and sideloading the apps on a jailbroken iPhone. Sure, there’s always the Android phone, but there’s a reason why, according to TechCrunch, more than 100,000 iPhones are smuggled into Iran every month.
Of course, we find it somewhat odd that Apple has decided to take this action now when the order was put in place over four years ago and in the midst of an immigration ban on Iran and other countries to the US. Perhaps the crackdown will be precipitous from this point forward.