June 19, 2012

NIAC Calls on Apple and US Government to End Sanctions Discrimination


Contact: Jamal Abdi
Phone: 202-386-6325
Email: [email protected]

Washington, DC – The National Iranian American Council calls on Apple to take immediate steps to ensure its policies regarding the enforcement of Iran sanctions do not continue to discriminate against Iranian Americans and Iranians in the U.S.
It was recently reported that a 19-year old Iranian American in Georgia was blocked from purchasing Apple products because of an Apple policy regarding Iran sanctions.  There have been subsequent reports from other Iranian Americans of similar discrimination.
“Nowhere in the sanctions laws does it say you can’t buy an iPad because you speak Persian,” said NIAC Policy Director Jamal Abdi.  “What does preventing an Iranian-American teenager from buying an iPad have to do with preventing the Iranian government from getting a nuclear weapon?”
NIAC also calls on the U.S. government to take the necessary steps to ensure sanctions do not continue to be misapplied or over-enforced to the detriment of Iranian Americans and Iranians.
“Unfortunately, this is part of an escalating pattern in which increasingly broad sanctions on Iran are hitting the wrong people,” said Abdi.  “Some of it is by design of Congress and the Administration, some of it is a lack of clarity about what is permitted, and some of it is over-enforcement of sanctions by private companies worried about running afoul of the law.”
This is just the latest case of companies, including tech companies, over-enforcing the sanctions on Iran.  While Iranian Americans are now facing difficulty in buying Apple products, ordinary citizens inside of Iran are unable to access basic communication software–not just because of the repression from their own government, but due to U.S. sanctions and the over-enforcement of those sanctions by private companies.
NIAC is in contact with Apple to ensure the company clarifies what is its policy regarding the sale of Apple products to Iranian Americans and understands what is the law in this regard.  NIAC is also in contact with the U.S. government to press for better clarification of the sanctions requirements and proper education and outreach with the private sector.
“These companies must stop over-enforcing the sanctions, but we also must recognize that this type of collateral damage is inevitable under broad sanctions,” said Abdi.  “At the very least, there must be a corresponding effort by the U.S. government to clarify all ambiguities—intentional and unintentional—to ensure everyone understands what is permitted under the sanctions.”




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