Apple Australia Won't Sell You A Product If It Will End Up In Iran

About a month ago, I read -- mouth agape -- that an Apple Store in the US had allegedly refused to sell products to a customer because of his ties to Iran (yes, really). It turns out that this is not an isolated incident: it's happening everywhere, even in Australia.

PressTV reports that Sydney student Mahsa Javam was told recently in the Castle Hill Apple Store that she wasn't allowed to buy anything after allegedly being told by a member of staff that it was due to her background and her upcoming travel destination which was -- you guessed it -- Iran. In an interview, Javam said that she felt she had been racially profiled and discriminated against.

Gizmodo Australia understands that Apple Australia operates under the same restrictions that apply in the US jurisdiction. That is, Apple Australia won't sell a product like an iPad or a MacBook to a customer if they know with certainty that it's going to end up in Iran.

Apple Australia has stressed, however, that it doesn't racially profile anyone, telling us in a statement:

"Our retail stores are proud to serve customers from around the world, of every ethnicity. Our store teams are multilingual and diversity is an important part of our culture. We don't discriminate against anyone."

Javam's allegations are pretty serious, but given that similar stories are popping up around the world, perhaps this is nothing more than a concerted attempt to beat up on Apple, using sanctions against Iran as the stick?

On the topic of sanctions, the Australian Government does have sanctions in place that restrict trade with Iran, and the government also subscribes to several United Nations Security Council resolutions that do the same thing. But there aren't any restrictions I've seen that would prevent the sale of an iPod Touch, for example.

According to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, sanctions around the sale of goods and technology restrict businesses operating out of Australia from selling things like nuclear technology, nuclear materials, ballistic missile tech, tanks, combat vehicles, attack helicopters, and equipment that can be used in nuclear enrichment activities to Iran. The new iPad is good, but it's not launching ICBMs or purifying weapons-grade uranium yet.

Who knows, there might be an app for that one day.

[Press TV]

Image: Wikimedia Commons



    Nothing to stop them going to JB and buying the same product, but after being treated like that, why would you?

    Hot tip for the day, don't tell Apple you're buying that new macbook for your trip to Iran.

    Also, while this might be legal in the US, is it legal in AU? Wouldn't be the first time Apple didn't bother to check local law before getting themselves into trouble.

      I'm not so sure if its even legal in the US?

        It isn't. You need to understand though that Apple has no say in this. Uncle Sam makes the rules that Apple and any other exporter must abide by. Our company imports goods from the USA and elsewhere and we must take reasonable measures to ensure that those goods are not re-exported to countries subject to US export restrictions, eg. Iran. If we knowingly do so we would face large penalties up to and including loss of licences to export goods altogether. The company who manufactured those goods could also face a complete export ban. As you could imagine, that would just about kill any business that relies on exports.

      Absolutely this is legal in Australia. Any publicly listed US company is forbidden to supply to Iran. This even applies to companies not native to US, but have US divisions, which basically means any major brand. There are major fines involved and even gaol time for knowingly disregarding these requirements.
      Even as an Australian company with no US ties, you still have to apply for permission to export to Iran (or even to sell to a third party who you suspect may then re-export to Iran). Your application is then assessed by DECO; a process that can take in excess of 12 months, and then can be rejected out of hand for reasons which they may or may not be inclined to divulge.
      Short answer - don't even try it. It is not worth the hassle.

        But there is a difference between re-exporting to Iran and taking a device with you on a trip.

        If you are buying the device with the intention of re-selling it in Iran then I can understand them not selling it to someone.

        Dspecial has hit the nail on the head. Iran's on the list of US export restricted countries. Any US company (in any country) can get in hot water for selling products that they suspect may end up in sanctioned countries.

        I really am wondering how they know the customer's background and planned trips though.

          In Apple's case, the employee overheard the customer talking to a friend (in Farsi), saying how she planned to give it to a friend in Iran.

          At that point, he could no longer legally sell it to her, not once he knew where it would end up. If she'd said nothing, there'd be no legal problem.

        I have worked for two global companies that will not supply to countries such as Iran. They had offices in the US and to trade and show they weren't supporting terrorism EVERY division had to follow the same requirements and make sure they didn't supply goods to a whole list of countries.

        Apple isn't supplying to Iran, though.

        They're selling to a consumer in Australia, who happens to be going to Iran. As long as they're not directly selling to an Iranian resident, Apple's legal responsibility here ends as soon as they walk out the door with that product.

          Only as long as they're unaware of where it will end up.

          If an Apple employee becomes aware that the product will be given to an Iranian, they are legally forbidden from selling it.

            I'm not so sure that its as clear cut as you seem to think it is.

            Trade sanctions are to stop the export commercial quantities of goods, and even then is not a blanked ban on all goods.
            Selling a single computer over the counter would not be in breach of any trade sanctions regardless of who the buyer is.

      How about, all the Apple products & services, i.e Itunes products, that we can't buy here in Australia, unless you are a US resident, with an American credit card??? Same happens with many products on Amazon. Lets's face it maybe we're just 2nd class citizens to them ;)

      “Neither a man nor a crowd nor a nation can be trusted to act humanely or to think sanely under the influence of a great fear.” Bertrand Russell (1872-1970), English logician and philosopher
      “Fear is not in the habit of speaking truth.” Publius Cornelius Tacitus

    how can they know where she comes from and where she travel to ?.They dont ask for passport when you buy an ipad.

      Castle Hill is populated with Persians (Iranians) they might have spotted their nationality from their conversation. The Apple employee that refused the sale for iPad in US was from Iran, might be the same thing here.

        Being of Persian ancestry is not a problem.

        Stating within hearing of an Apple employee that you plan to export the product to Iran; that causes a legal problem.

        They found out she was travelling to Iran, it had 'nothing' to do with her nationality.

        God knows how they found that out though.

      They Probably just asked her.

      It's seems like an inoccuous question.

      I work in strategic management and have studied Apple in depth.
      To answer your question, when you walk into an Apple store you're immediately profiled by the store staff. The innocent questions you're asked, how old you are, who you're shopping with, what you're shopping for etc these are all sent back to Apple offices in Curpetino in real time.
      You'll notice generally an Apple staff member will make trips to the back room after speaking to you.
      So it may have come up in conversation that the buyer was either iranian, about to go on a holiday to Iran etc.

        "these are all sent back to Apple offices in Curpetino in real time." Oh, you're too much.

        But did you know from cupertino they then distribute that information through the iSphere, a software overlay to the iCloud cloud computing network, and meticulously calculate how to sell to your 57 year old mother in Peru? Little do they know that this information will one day go rogue and destro ythe world.

    They are classified as strategic products and usually have a clause in their purchase stating along the lines of
    "The Buyer acknowledges that Products marked with an # on the face of the invoice and their technologies, are classified as Strategic Products under the Wassenaar Arrangement regulations and as such should not be exported without the appropriate Governmental authority"

    Hi, I'm from Iran, and I think Apple's strategy is just DUMB. Because there's no thought to it. You can't imagine how hurtful it is when you get out of your country to live here freely and you absolutely hate the government there and then somebody gives you s#!t about it.
    I stopped buying apple products a while ago because they mess with your freedom of choice, it's like Scientology when you get in, you can't get out.

      comparing Apple to Scientology is.........quite correct :)

      Please don't misunderstand. No store I'm aware of (including Apple) has a policy not to sell to Persians. However, the law forbids them from selling to a customer if they are aware the product will be exported to Iran.

      Apple's vendor lock-in is another subject altogether, but that's independent of national boundaries.

        That is wrong on oh so many levels.

    Maybe apple products can launch missiles like the PS2 could (anyone remember that?)

      YES! and the PS3 can render games like a Pixar movie!

    Why is this even news? No US company will sell you a product if its going to be used in Iran. I have worked for multiple US tech companies and they all make us complete training about the US trade embargo's which specifically forbid this behaviour.

    The terms of sale for Dell for instance read like this

    Company agrees it will not export, directly or indirectly, the Hardware, Software and/or the Documentation, in whole or part, to any country or destination where such export is prohibited or restricted by the United States government, without the prior written consent of Provider and in compliance with all applicable law, including the Export Administration Regulations of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

    All US companies are prohibited by US law, no matter where in the world they operate, from selling a vast list of products to anyone they suspect may sell them or use them in a list of restricted countries, not just Iran. Most have some means to approve such sales on a case by case basis, but its usually easier simply not to do so.

    You can't blame Apple in this instance, it's the US government that are being d**ks here.

      Blaming apple 'sells' more views/clicks these days. Thats why.

    Do they really think consumer MacBooks are a national threat? Iran has already "acquired" the latest and greatest stealth drone on the planet and can buy CPUs from practically anywhere by the bucketload on the black market. What utter nonsense.

      Bro, if you found a Ferrari tomorrow, would you be able to build another one yourself? Them having that drone means zilch. The control center software is the important tech anyways, not the drone nor it's software (glorified model aeroplane anyways.)

      Secondly, sanctions are there to create pressure on sitting governments (pressure from their citizens), and I think this pretty much achieves that. It's not about the technology, but making the Iranian people seek regime change by making their lives crap under the current regime. ie. Not being allowed to have that shiny new apple cause of your government.

    anyone else getting a strange entrepreneurial hard-on right now, with dreams of boxes of secoundhand ipad 2s and a plane ticket to Iran??

      I think it's just a precaution to keep themselves out of hot water. I don't actually think there's big demand for iPads and Apple computers in Iran of all places.

        There'd be as big a demand there as anywhere, the only problem you have is a smaller market because there wouldn't be as many consumers with the cash to afford products that have had to be shipped in such an expensively circuitous route. You'd be better off getting cheaper Android products direct from Korea or China.

    Apple would be better of going after these guys, but whatever:

    Also, Apple is only required here to stop sale of tech products DIRECTLY to people in Iran. They're not liable for anyone taking products there after the fact. In the US, that onus would be on the US citizen in question, and in Aus... that I know of, no restriction. Could be wrong though, IANAL.

      Like someone said earlier, it's directly OR indirectly.

    This has been prevalent for a long long time. I work in the mining industry, and any equipment we source from the US comes with the disclaimer that it will not be on-sold, or end up in axis of evil type countries.

    This is nothing new... US companies have to prevent direct or indirect exportations to a number of countries like Iran. This student fell into the indirect importation category because she was intending to travel to Iran soon and it was reasonably likely she might bring some of all of the products with her.

    Unfortunate but it would apply to anyone with upcoming travel to Iran - had of not been for this fact this student should of been fine...

    here's an easy solution, just say you're turkish, its not like they are asking you to show them your passport.

    i wonder if they would do the same if your name was John Smith and you have blonde hair and blue eyes.

    Back in my previous job at a global-yet-US-based company, we all had to take mandatory online ethical training courses. At the question about having any relations to any middle eastern country listed on screen (Iran being included), my Iranian-background friend said yes and was told she cannot do the mandatory survey.

    not about race, why do people keep pulling that card! the buyer most likely seeking to buy it duty free, or enquire something to that effect since she already have the ticket. Just go in and buy it dont tell your whole life story when you in there.

    I reckon they are just worried that Israel will start writing viruses to attack Macs if they think they are going to be used in uranium enrichment....

    i feel the troll coming on....

    why is she going back to iran? that's the important question.

    She went in to the store with a hidden microphone and told them she was Iranian. Obviously no American company is going to check identification of every customer; she told them she was going to Iran then asked if she was allowed to buy something. They would have sold her whatever she wanted, except that by bringing it to their attention she forced them to act in the way they did.

    There is no story here. Just entrapment.

      entrapment? WTF? she didn't force them to do anything.

        But she did. They didn't ask for her travel plans, she told them that she was planning to go to Iran and asked them point blank if she was allowed to buy a product. She was wearing a recording device because she wanted to take it to the media. Sounds like entrapment to me.

    You do realise that Press TV is basically a propaganda machine for the Iranian govt, so anything they report on I would take with a grain of salt.

    The funniest thing when I went to Iran last time is that there are all these fake apple stores, I really should have taken some photos. If they really want to buy apple products they should just stop off in Dubai on the way home and they can get whatever they want.

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