iPhone users located in Iran are reportedly being blocked from accessing the App Store, Apple’s official source for applications and other content, according to a report from Bleeping Computer.
The apparent restriction was not announced by Apple and the company has yet to comment on claims the App Store is inaccessible.
Users in Iran who attempt to visit the App Store are presented with a message that states, “The App Store is unavailable in the country or region you’re in.” Users based in Iran have taken to social media to complain about the apparent restriction.
@AppStore really sorry for your company because of your act in limiting app store by political reasons for #iran you don’t respect to your users. #sanctions #trump #appsstore #iphone #apple #misrespect
— Tesōkē (@MonsieurTesoke) March 15, 2018
It’s worth noting that Apple has never operated directly within Iran’s borders. The company has not sold phones in the country, nor has it set up a dedicated App Store for Iranian users. However, people living in Iran could import Apple devices and access some parts of the App Store that were technically meant for other regions.
The news Thursday seems to signify that Apple has officially closed that loophole and will no longer offer any support to users operating Apple devices in Iran.
Apple has cracked down on Iran in the past. Last year, the giant computer company began removing apps made by Iranian developers from the App Store. It has also removed apps that helped enable business transactions within the region.
The prior restrictions came at behest of new sanctions placed on Iran by the United States under the Trump administration. “Under the U.S. sanctions regulations, the App Store cannot host, distribute, or do business with apps or developers connected to certain US embargoed countries,” Apple said at the time.
It is not clear if the decision to block access to the App Store entirely is also the result of sanctions or if Apple made the decision on its own.
iPhone users in Iran can still technically access the App Store, but will have to do so while using a virtual private network (VPN) that can mask their true location and make it appear as though they are located in a region where the App Store isn’t restricted.