Iran threatens to ban, seize iPhones unless Apple registers in the country

In an effort to crack down on phones being imported into the country by smugglers, Iranian officials have demanded that Apple officially register in Iran or have its products banned, The Japan Times reports. “If Apple will not register an official representative in Iran within the next few days, all iPhones will be collected from the market,” the director of Iran’s anti-smuggling office told Tasnim News Agency. The director’s name wasn’t provided in the report. The new project, running under the president’s office, will require all mobile phones to be registered with Iran’s telecommunications user database.
All phones not registered with that database will supposedly not be able to be used, but the office has also announced that former users of iPhones and other smuggled devices are excluded from the project, so the exact nature of the rules isn’t clear. In terms of what Apple registering in the country really means, a representative from the anti-smuggling office said there is no legal limitation to Apple registering a store in Iran, seeming to indicate that Apple would need to open some sort of retail storefront in the country to be in compliance with the new rules. How the massive number of iPhones already in the country would be linked to a database and what data would be collected from them is unclear, but the head of the Tehran IT union (who also wasn’t named in the report) expressed concerns about what would happen if the database were to be hacked and doubts about Iran’s ability to follow through on its threats. “Collecting this huge number of iPhones will not be easy,” he said. Apple hasn’t publicly responded to the ultimatum.


Dan Pye was a news editor at iLounge. He's been involved with technology his whole life, and started writing about it in 2009. He's written about everything from iPhone and iPad cases to Apple TV accessories.