TEHRAN – In an ultimatum, Iranian officials asked iPhone manufacturer Apple Inc. to either officially register in Iran or have its products banned, a local news agency reported Monday.
“If Apple will not register an official representative in Iran within the next few days, all iPhones will be collected from the market,” Tasnim News Agency quoted the director of Iran’s anti-smuggling office as having said on Sunday.
More than 40 million Iranians are using smart phones, including millions of iPhone users, whose devices are often imported into the country by smugglers.
A representative from the anti-smuggling office told Tasnim that there is no legal limitation to Apple registering a store in Iran.
For anti-smuggling purposes Iran has started a project, running under the president’s office, to ban smuggled mobile phones. The scheme, which will start later this week, will require all mobile phones to be registered with Iran’s telecommunications user database. Any that are not will not be able to be used.
The office announced that former users of iPhones and other smuggled phones are excluded from this project.
Although it said that the project has received the cooperation of mobile operators, customs and the union of mobile phone sellers, some IT activists are criticizing the decision to potentially ban iPhones.
“Collecting this huge number of iPhones will not be easy,” the head of the Tehran IT union told Tasnim News on Monday, also expressing concerns over the potential hacking of the telecommunications database.