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.
Image: Wikimedia Commons