Apple Store Refuses To Sell To American Citizens Speaking Farsi In Case They Might Send iPhone To Iran

from the policy-is-policy dept

This is just bizarre. Apparently, an Iranian-born American citizen who was speaking Farsi was denied the ability to buy an iPad and an iPhone because store employees cited an Apple policy barring the export of Apple products to Iran.

Jafarzadeh, who is from Virginia, said no one asked him where the phone was going. The employee only questioned his ethnicity.

“I feel like this is a bit of racial profiling against Iranians and I’m appalled,” Jafarzadeh said.

It certainly sounds like Apple might want to train some of its employees a bit better in understanding what “export” means. And maybe Apple employees should also be made aware of the fact that American citizens can speak Farsi.

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Comments on “Apple Store Refuses To Sell To American Citizens Speaking Farsi In Case They Might Send iPhone To Iran”

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That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Is this just American xenophobia raising its ugly head again?

Dress “Muslim” and get extra looks at security, and stares from people on the plane.
Speak “Muslim” with your travel companions and get people to panic as they assume your talking about overthrowing the government or downing the plane.
Say the same phrases as other people but look “Muslim” and suddenly everything is much more sinister.

That being said, FTFA they admit they were buying the iPad to send to Iran. So they were just following the “law” and policy… but that starts to fall apart when you meet the other people denied purchase because they were speaking Farsi. People who said nothing about Iran but spoke a language and an employee made the decision they would refuse the sale because they might sneak it out of the country to Iran where it could be used to do all sorts of evil.
I can support them when they hear about it being shipped to Iran, the Feds say no to that. But when they decide your the right color and speaking Farsi so no phone for you, we should have problems.

Also WTF is it Apple’s job to stop these things from being exported? Apple salespeople are now are front line of defense to keep Iranians from getting Apple products?

TechnoMage (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Actually YES, it IS Apple’s job to stop the export of this product to Iran. (See my post below)

ITAR is taken VERY SERIOUSLY. First story I found Googling about the WELL known story from Tenn about ITAR violations

Perhaps you’ve never had to worry about this law, and great for you if you haven’t. But for those of use who do… This is a well known topic.

TRUST ME… ITAR is not something you want to mess with.

Rich Kulawiec (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:


Only by appallingly ignorant morons.

For example: let’s suppose that the evil wicked mean nasty terrorist bogeymen (I mean the real ones, not the ones created by the FBI as a substitute for doing sound police work) want to get their hands on a case of iPhone and iPads because they too want to be locked into Apple’s increasingly-proprietary and unmaintainable and overpriced products.

Does anyone really think that they can’t make that happen? REALLY? Do you REALLY think that people who are putatively smart enough to construct elaborate conspiracies and execute complex plots can’t figure out how to shop Walmart or Craigslist or eBay and come up with as many as they want?

Pretending that widespread technology will somehow magically be confined to a limited space via regulatory fiat is stupid on a grand scale.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Alright, people jumping at this guy need to chill. ITAR is very important because the US government will bash your head in.

The employee in the story is at best stupid and most likely racist. But if he had asked “is this going out of the country?” and the guy said “No, I’m using it in the USA you dumb ****” then the Apple employee has done more than enough regarding ITAR since he has no other capabilities to perform this rather meaningless part of the job.

If a government auditor decided to test the said employee and clearly state “I plan to give this to my friend who lives in Iran” while buying the phone and the employee sold it anyways, Apple could suffer greatly. On paper anyways. Doubtful they would care much about individual stores.

TechnoMage (profile) says:


This is in relation to ITAR regulations :Govt’s ITAR Regulations and ITAR on Wikipedia

Basically Apple is being over zealous of ITAR regulations, and not taking the time to identify proper persons of who can/can not purchase “dual use” technology(What an Ipad would count as).

Iran is one of the nations that are on the _strictest_ export level … basically you can’t export ANYTHING to Iran.

US Permanent Residents (no matter their national heritage) don’t fall into this category because they count as a “U.S. Person”[list below]. And if they do take it to IRAN, it is that person’s own fault, not Apple’s. (dual citizenship/etc is another thing… but w/e)

A “U.S. person” can be
a U.S. citizen;
a permanent resident who does not work for a foreign company, a foreign government, or a foreign governmental agency/organization;
a political asylee;
a part of the U.S. government, or
a corporation, business, organization, or group that is incorporated in the United States under U.S. law.[20]

Hope this adds some clarity to the discussion. This is not an “Anti-Muslim” policy. It is the law to stop our national enemies from benefiting from our science/technology. N.Korea, Cuba, Iran, Syria (and a few others that I can’t think of off the top of my head are on that list, some are coincidentally Islamic, some aren’t, that isn’t a deciding factor at all, their relationship with the US is what puts you on the ITAR banned list.)

TechnoMage (profile) says:

Re: ITARded

“The iPad was to be a gift for her cousin who lives in Iran.”-From the article

The Apple employee did the right thing here legally. Perhaps the clerk was overzealous, and possibly outside the words of the law (and I don’t think they were…) but… they were definitely doing the right thing in the spirit of the law. Preventing Iran from obtaining American Technology that has a “dual use”(this is a key word) as a military object.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: ITARded

And the other people mentioned in the article who got the same treatment without having mentioned Iran?
I mentioned the one that was to be a gift should have been stopped in my comment… maybe you missed that.

Stating our countries have bad relations is not the proper way to handle this situation. You mentioned shipping this product to Iran, I’m sorry but that is banned by Federal Law. You can try to get permission to do so, here is a handy Apple pamphlet on the subject.

Listening to someone speaking a foriegn language and then deciding they should be barred from purchasing with no evidence they were going to break the law is dumb.

Having someone working in a mall having to make these calls is bad policy. I’m sure there is lots of stuff sold at Best Buy and other places that are on the list and there isn’t the same sort of checks being done…

There might be a reason for the law, but can we agree the implementation of the law at the retailer level needs work?

TechnoMage (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: ITARded

The entire law itself needs work. Even congress has said so.

One of the research directors at a national lab. was in violation of ITAR, and was working to correct it. So… it is VERY hard to be in full compliance.

However, that doesn’t mean Apple doesn’t have to follow that law as it is now. Perhaps to be more fair about it, they should require every person to fill out an e-form stating that they will not export this item to the . This might work for CYA legally, but I don’t know on how effective it would be overall. But… it’s a start. Also, another idea would be to train every employee to ask where the phone is headed to every customer, same basic idea.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 ITARded

As long as it is applied evenly I see no problem with switching to that type of policy.
Apple needs to cover their butts and could do so with a sign posted in the store explaining the law. Add it to the receipt etc…

The problem happens when someone is “given” power over other people and can make the call without needing anything factual to backup the decision. Having not seen the Apple employee guide one is unable to decide if these were the actions of an employee being overzealous or not. As they were able to find another person denied a purchase without the announced intention of shipping it to Iran, it brings into question what is happening at that store.

JarHead says:

Re: ITARded

It is the law to stop our national enemies from benefiting from our science/technology.

And I thought science/technology belongs to the entire human race, silly me. I guess when they find cure for cancer, it’ll be under ITAR as well, cos it can be developed into bio weapon. Humanity can go to hell.

Just like the US, champion of freedom and privacy banned export of encryption technology, so they can read what others wrote.

TechnoMage (profile) says:

Re: Re: ITARded

I would say “yes silly you”, but perhaps I wasn’t clear, the banned items are of any thing that can be used by their military that has a dual use(so in this case, the ipad/iphone for its encryption capabilities, or perhaps its 3d modeling/rendering capabilities ( I don’t know or care really)

But to explain why this is important:
Two words: Manhattan Project

Think about what would have happened if that information had been given to Germany in 1944.

The idea of giving either science/technology/goods to nations that are hostile towards you is not a good idea. The level of threat an ipad has is much lower than the secrets of the a-bomb… but still, you don’t purposely allow your enemy nations to get your goods/knowledge.

There are exceptions for NGO humanitarian organizations to give them basic medical services, such as the Red Cross (Red Crescent in Islamic nations)… But the only people who know/care about that are the NGOs and medical manfs.

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: ITARded

Two words: Manhattan Project

Think about what would have happened if that information had been given to Germany in 1944.

Nothing. The Germans already had most of the knowledge. Their attempts to make a bomb were hampered by infrastructure problems not lack of information.

And as far as the iPad is concerned the only conceivable military use it has is if you hit someone with it!

Plus if the Iranian govt really wanted iPads do you no think they could get them direct from China – where they are actually made?

ITAR is based on a long outdated illusion that the US actually has any control over this technology.

Niall (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 ITARded

Yes, we very very carefully destroyed their deuterium extraction plants in Norway, and we did a pretty good number on their industrial capacity. Just to be sure, we invaded them as well.

That was in the middle of an all-out war though. I’m sure export controls like this totally stop anyone going out and buying/reverse engineering these. Totally.

G Thompson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: ITARded

Most of the knowledge that the Manhatten project used (and stole) came from Germany, Bavaria, Austria, Italy etc and was known well before the beginning of WW2.

Nuclear Energy and the concepts behind it especially radium etc were nothing that Americans actually discovered.

Next you will state that Americans invented jet engines, radar, Television etc. The only real inventor that came from America was Nikola Tesla (and he was originally Serbian) and we all know how the USA Govt treated him.

(PS: this is an Off topic reminder that July 10 is Tesla day)

JarHead says:

Re: Re: Re: ITARded

the banned items are of any thing that can be used by their military that has a dual use(so in this case, the ipad/iphone for its encryption capabilities, or perhaps its 3d modeling/rendering capabilities

Dual use? Many technologies has more than that, and sciences have even much more. Standard atomic model, for instance, has many uses, one of them is the basis of nuclear energy/weapons. Should only US have that knowledge?

3D modeling and rendering capabilities is a threat to US? That’s new.

The idea of giving either science/technology/goods to nations that are hostile towards you is not a good idea. The level of threat an ipad has is much lower than the secrets of the a-bomb… but still, you don’t purposely allow your enemy nations to get your goods/knowledge.

I do get it, the necessity of ensuring one’s nation security. However, like war on drugs and/or piracy, I don’t think that approach (ITAR) is effective, other than ensuring US hegemony and involving it in a perpetual war.

One reason why seemingly many groups and/or country hostile toward US is the perceived self-righteousness and double standard in it’s foreign policy, while flaunting it’s wealth flamboyantly all the while effectively prohibiting others to reach such wealth independently. This is the perception of others, some then justify their hate with religion. Laws like ITAR doesn’t help US image in that front, and then there are guys like that Apple employee.

I think Mike’s CwF+RtB approach is more appropriate in the matter with slight modification: Connect with Rival (CwF) and giving them Reasons to Cooperate (RtC). Continuing to dig the hole named “National Security” won’t do anyone good, and don’t I get the gist that even US citizen have their movement more and more constrained everyday at an accelerating pace in the name of “Security”.

G Thompson (profile) says:

Re: ITARded

What a loud of horsehit your ITA law is.

Your ITAR law is based on the premise that only the USA has this sort of technology or could design/invent this sort of thing, not unlike your “encryption” export laws that were based on the assumption, falsely, that only America had the intelligence to create encryption algorithms.

It’s another example of the USA being a highly parochial entity where anyone who has the audacity to be different is treated as an ‘enemy’ to control the ineptitude and corrupt practices within your own country.

Interestingly this doesn’t apply to someone in another country where Apple (or any other USA corporation) sells their ‘technological marvel’ from purchasing it legally and sending it via external mail to friends and family elsewhere in the world. Otherwise maybe Apple and other companies should just:
1. Invent things in the USA only
2. Only manufacture in the USA these products (and no where else.. like say China)
3. Only sell within the borders of the USA to US citizens only
4. Let the rest of the world carry on with the cultural magnitude that is the other 95% of the worlds human intellect that invents, transforms, and adapts to whatever they want.

Luckily it seems that Apple’s days are numbered as the number 1 provider of communications devices anywhere in the world other than the USA. Samsung (who is now number 1 worldwide) and HTC have better technology, better R&D, and aren’t a closed parochial (in the economical sense of the word) than Apple now.

I agree with your last statement absolutely that this isn’t an Anti-Muslim policy per say instead it is an “Anti anyone who doesn’t kowtow to American interests” instead.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Bull

So the other people they interviewed were liars too…

It is nice that you have faith in other humans, but then we have police officers who tased a cuffed and hogtied woman in the back seat of a cruiser to keep her from leaping out and attacking nearby children. And this was accepted as a reasonable and truthful answer.

There is plenty of stupid out there, lots of it wears suits and lobbys.

frosty840 says:

Couple of things...

“an Apple police”, line 3, word 1.

Second, there’s a weird grey bar in my Techdirt browser window, taking up my valuable screen real-estate, and it doesn’t have a “Go the fuck away and leave me the fuck alone” button on it.

I came here from the RSS feed, Mike. I’ve already got all of the headlines visible in the feed. I don’t need your app making random guesses about other stories I’ve probably already decided to read (or not) based on some terrible keyword search algorithm thing. I especially don’t need it lying to me about fake “notifications”.

Make it go away and make it stay away, please.

Rich Kulawiec (profile) says:

Re: Couple of things...

You’ll want the AdBlock and NoScript extensions, for starters. These tend to eliminate many of the profoundly annoying “features” of numerous web sites. Also worth a look, while you’re perusing extensions: Beef Taco, Better Privacy, Disconnect, ShareMeNot, and BlockSite.

Of course, if the Firefox people were actually paying attention instead of trying to dumb the browser down to the point where any imbecile can use it, these wouldn’t be extensions: they’d be part of the core browser.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Couple of things...

” if the Firefox people were actually paying attention instead of trying to dumb the browser down to the point where any imbecile can use it”

I’m sure if you look hard enough you can find a nice elitist browser that requires 6 years IT experience and a certification course. The other 6.5 billion people on the planet can keep slowly moving over to mozilla from ie.

art guerrilla (profile) says:

Re: Couple of things...

thanks for pointing out what i was going to, HATE these kind of widgets: GET OFF MY SCREEN!

…and to the grumpy anon below: i have chrome with adblock+ and the graybar of dearth is still there, only the icons are blocked… the ‘preferences’ button is ghosted, but maybe because i wasn’t logged in at the time (what? anonymous browsers aren’t allowed to have preferences ?)

art guerrilla
aka ann archy

chris says:


Well, I can understand Apple’s apprehensiveness when selling goods that are illegal to transport to Iran.
Granted, a few of the people who went to buy phones were actually Americans, but they identified themselves as “from Iran” instead of just saying that they were American and spoke Farsi.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: citizenship

if they ask you where you were born and you were born in Iran, you say Iran. The 2 main people in the story are Iranian born American Citizens.

Apple sells hundreds of items online via their own website and other retailers, I’ve never seen a confirmation box pop up asking if you plan to ship it to Iran or another restricted country.

Anonymous Coward says:

I know retailers can refuse service to people but this is refusing to sell to someone based on where they are from and what language they speak which is discrimination and, if true, can report the Apple store to whatever consumer watchdogs you have in the US.

A bigger issue here is Apple believing the bullshit US government propaganda that all Iranians are evil and want to destroy western society. Now, this may come as a shock, but this is untrue as the majority of Iranians simply want to live, work and practice their faith in peace and have zero interest in violence against the west.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re:

stop… breathe….now another breath….

There is a Federal Law blocking certain things from going to Iran, while 1 of the 2 cases in the linked story actually involved that law it seems the people were picked out for their nationality is.

2 separate issues, and it could just be a douchey apple employee.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Her case isn’t as compelling to me as the other case. It is possible she and her Uncle had mentioned it was going to be a gift they were shipping to Iran. The article sorta glosses over the fact there is a Federal Law barring devices like that being shipped out without permission. They also talk about her being a citizen, but do not mention anything about her freind or Uncle. It does not appear as cut and dried in that case, the other case seems much more a racial profiling case.

People speaking a “foriegn” language and that alone lead to a decision to not sell to them.

Both cases were handled poorly by the Apple employee(s), and showed they were blind to how this might appear to someone looking from the outside in.

kenichi tanaka says:

This is a case where Apple could actually get into trouble over this. ITAR only prohibits the exporting/sales of merchandise involving technology or electronics TO other countries currently on the prohibitive list of countries. Nowhere in ITAR does it say that companies can deny the sales of “said” merchandise to American-born or naturalized American citizens currently having legal status to live in the United States.

Since when does Apple get to rewrite the rules regarding ITAR? I suspect that Apple is going to get embroiled in a very expensive lawsuit for discriminating against this customer just because the customer was speaking Farsi.

What if I walked into an Apple store. I’m white, born here, I’m descended from Native Americans and I have Polish Ancestry, Austrian and European descent and if I happened to be speaking Farsi, would Apple refuse to sell me an iPhone?

Apple should be ashamed of themselves for refusing to sell their products to someone who’s actually an American. They had no justification to refuse to sell the item to this customer and it’s clearly a case of discrimination and racial profiling.

Josef Anvil (profile) says:

Right result, unsettling reason

First of all, the sale being denied to the woman who was sending the iPad to Iran as a gift was in line with Apple policy. The matter of questioning the consumer about what she was going to do with her purchase based on the language she was speaking was definitely discriminatory, if that is how it happened.

Second we come to the next guy being denied purchase because he was an Iranian speaking Farsi, coupled with an Apple employee misquoting the Apple policy. “He reiterated (the policy) always will be to not sell to anyone from Iran.” That is not exactly the Apple policy, but the employee did make the lawfully correct decision. Again the reason for questioning the origin of the consumer is discriminatory.

While it may be lawful and even prudent to not sell Apple products to Iranian citizens in the US, that does not mean that American citizens of Iranian descent are to be discriminated against unless they intend to export those products. That means that most Americans of Middle-Eastern descent face a lot of invasive questions when simply trying to purchase from Apple.

Personally I do not have faith that the average Apple employee knows the difference between Farsi, Urdu, or any other Arabic or Indo-Persian dialect. That would imply that quite a lot of Americans of Middle-Eastern descent face unwarranted discrimination when shopping in an Apple store.

The two cases cited in the original article were not discriminatory, but they do imply that there is a lot of discrimination that goes on in Apple stores before a purchase is allowed.

Jlohse says:

Sanctions Aren't Discrimination

RACE has nothing to do with NATIONALITY and identifying your nation for the sake of international political sanctions has nothing to do you with you personally. If they have ANY reason to suspect goods are going to Iran, it is a fair question.

It is so annoying when bitches cry racism whenever they don’t get their way.

It’s about the goods going back to Iran. Let’s face it, if you are a Iranian student in America, you’re lucky to even be able to study there given the sanctions and you’re likely returning to Iran, so NO-people won’t trust you to say ‘it’s not going back to Iran with me’ and they won’t take a risk for your extra-special person.

The article is very one-sided and cries racism, so immediately conclusions can be drawn about its mysterious author and what they would expect everyone to just eat up and believe like sheep. Very patronizing.

‘Hey kids! You like foreign people, right? Don’t be a douche like Apple, agree with me that selling electronic goods to Iran through visitors & family members in America doesn’t interfere with sanctions and it’s outright RACIST to deny it!’ Um…right.

Why are most statements from Iranian Americans and Iranian interests in America? A heavily biased and unbalanced article. It screams ‘Look at how racist America and Apple are!’ I would usually ignore this, but just for this article I’m gonna say OPEN YOUR EYES. I think everyone involved understood what this is about and it isn’t racism.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Sanctions Aren't Discrimination

Its way more annoying when bigots fall behind “religious freedom” when they are called out on their behavior and don’t get their way.

Both of the people in the story are US Citizens, who happen to be of Iranian decent.

Spending the 5 minutes to actually read the comments here before you wound yourself into a tizzy would show that there is a discussion that is not solely focused on race, but raises questions if employee(s) of an Apple store are making decisions based on what they assume and using a law to justify being a racist douche.

You should be more worried than you are as whites are becoming the minority in the US, and you might find yourself trying to play the racism card when things don’t go your way.

Thanks for the morning troll, now hush… the grownups are talking.

Andrew D. Todd (user link) says:

The Poor Performance of Excessively Fashionable Apple Computers and Southern Racism.

This event took place in Alpharetta, Georgia… I believe we are talking urban redneck country. This is the sort of thing which could be expected to happen with an ignorant sales clerk.

From the ITAR point of view, an IPad or IPhone is not a very powerful computer– it is simply a computer which can be carried around in a fashionably small pocket– everything else has been compromised to that goal. If you want to play a full-motion photo-realistic video game, or do engineering simulations, a desktop computer is much more practical. An IPad or IPhone is not suitable for use as a micro-controller, either. You can buy something like an Arduino, which is designed for the purpose. Desktop computers of roughly comparable performance are often treated as junk, and can be bought for ten dollars or so at yard sales. Of course, Apple really hates having this fact stated in plain language.

The remedy to Apple’s discrimination is quite simple. On January 32, 1960, Black students commenced a “sit-in” at a racially-segregated lunch counter in a Woolworth’s store in Greensboro, North Carolina. Picketing rapidly spread across the South, and then to the rest of the nation, extending as far as Boston and Chicago. Woolworth’s and the other chain stores surrendered at discretion on July 25, not quite six months after the action began. Very well, Apple is not fundamentally different from Woolworth’s. When people begin picketing Apple stores in Hollywood and Sweden, Apple will surrender at discretion. And now, of course, we have the internet. Communication is faster. I doubt it need take as long as two weeks to bring Apple to its knees.

The Logician says:

The better solution, I believe, is to avoid restricting who can purchase your product entirely. Apple is merely a vendor and its responsibilities should not extend beyond that field. What customers do with their product after it is sold is not necessary for Apple to be concerned with. It is much the same as those who place responsibility for bad actions upon the tools rather than those who use them. An unfortunate oversight on their part.

A better way would be to reduce the factors in our nation which cause others to be hostile to us. Namely, scaling back our military efforts by a large degree and eliminating our espionage programs (such as those responsible for Stuxnet) entirely, as well as the alphabet agencies who sponsor them. And adopt an earthly version of the Prime Directive. No interference in the internal affairs of other nations. As well as abandoning all international treaties which seek to force our laws upon other nations – namely, ACTA and TPP, among others.

Wally (profile) says:


Hey Mike, I am a bit put off by your statement “And maybe Apple employees should also be made aware of the fact that American citizens can speak Farsi,” and it is way out of line. You are showing your personal bias again concerning Apple. You forget that ONE Apple store’s stupidity does NOT represent company policies as a whole. We all know you dislike Apple Computer.

Yes, it is unfortunate that it happened at an Apple Store, but you’re getting a tad nit picky with the last scentsnce in the article.

ookboo says:

birds of a feather

In working retail I’ve seen this play out before. If the first person walks in and says “I’m shipping this to Iran to my cousin”, is denied the sale, then an hour later someone comes in asking for the same thing, but is similarly dressed/speaking the same language/dialect, it is in the spirit of the law for that sales person to deny the sale as the second person is likely attempting to complete the purchase the first person was denied. Too many unknowns to say the sales person is stupid. It’s likely he was a new hire and just completed training (or retraining) on the rules of war at Apple.

Anonymous Coward says:


A better way would be to reduce the factors in our nation which cause others to be hostile to us. Namely, scaling back our military efforts by a large degree and eliminating our espionage programs (such as those responsible for Stuxnet) entirely, as well as the alphabet agencies who sponsor them. And adopt an earthly version of the Prime Directive. No interference in the internal affairs of other nations. As well as abandoning all international treaties which seek to force our laws upon other nations – namely, ACTA and TPP, among others.

What a naive rube you are. You be in big trouble if you ever venture into the real world, Goober.

Rich Kulawiec (profile) says:

Couple of things...

It’s hardly “elitist” to expect people to be able to read and comprehend basic concepts before allowing them the privilege of utilizing an incredibly powerful tool — in particular, one that allows them to do amazing amounts of damage to their own computing environment as well as any that they happen to be part of, in a very short time. I don’t expect casual users to understand TCP/IP or sockets or buffer overflows or Python or any of that, but I do expect them to use their brains before they click on every shiny thing they see.

Michael says:

Apple's in the right

“Note that the release of any item to any party with knowledge a violation is about to occur is prohibited by ?736.2(b)(10) of the EAR.”

This makes it seem pretty clear that you can’t sell to someone that plans on violating the law. (I agree, the law is moronic, etc.)

Rikuo (profile) says:


Just to point out to people, I’m not a USian nor have I ever been, so can someone clarify for me please: is there some sort of trade embargo going on between the US and Iran? If so, do checkout jockeys in the US have to ask their customers “Is this going to be used in Iran?” Because, having worked as a checkout jockey myself for a number of years, I’ve never had to do this. Surely the movement of trade restricted objects would be a matter best left to customs/border control/TSA.
If my manager had come up to me and said “Alright lads, Ireland now doesn’t sell to “Insert Random Country”, because of an embargo. If someone you think comes from that country or you think is going there, refuse service to them”, I’d have laughed at him/her.

Its a corporate thing says:

Apple's in the right

As amusing as this is in that he is “appalled” using the race card, and attempts to call upon the sympathetic ears of the world, this is also clearly possible that it is setting precident for a political grandstand for making it illegal {if a law “can” be broken}, then that is also illegal.. Oh what a world, what a world..

Mason Wheeler (profile) says:


Umm… an American *did* invent television. His name was Philo Farnsworth, and he was raised on a farm in Idaho. A bunch of people from other places had tried to create a similar device, but they all failed.

Farnsworth got the inspiration for how to make the image display properly from ploughing fields, and the basic concept he invented based on it (a grid of pixels) is still the fundamental principle behind all image display devices today.


Andrew D. Todd (user link) says:

To Rikuo, #71,

The Deep South is America’s tragic region, in the same sense that Sicily is Italy’s tragic region, or Andalusia or La Mancha would be Spain’s tragic region, or perhaps Ulster, in the case of Ireland. The Deep South cannot forget that it lost the American Civil War in 1861-65. If you are an Irishman, I don’t suppose you’ve read William Faulkner or Flannery O’Connor. There is a recent writer in this tradition, James Lee Burke, who is probably comparatively accessible for foreigners. Do you remember the William Butler Yeats poem in which the young man says that he cannot forgive Dermot and Dvorgilla for inviting Strongbow to Ireland, back in, what, the 1270’s? That approximates the Southern Mind at work.

Here is a famous poem which explains something of the probably mentality of the store clerk. The clerk probably chose, more or less at random, to find a Non-White to pick on, to express his self-hood. Nowadays, that usually does not mean attacking Blacks– they have consolidated their position sufficiently to be able to protect themselves against that kind of thing. It is likely to mean attacking Hispanics, or Asian-Americans, or whatever.

W.E.B. Du Bois, On Being Crazy

Du Bois was a charter member of the first group of Black intellectuals after the Civil War. In contrast to his peer, Booker T. Washington, founder of Tuskegee Institute, Du Bois tended to focus on psychological grievances, ie. the condition of constantly being insulted.

nospacesorspecialcharacters (profile) says:

I say they’re not going far enough! Forget iPads, what about food and drink? Walmart, Wholefoods, etc… all sales clerks should be denying food and drink purchases to Iranians – in case they intend to send a box of Lucky Charms back to Iran. We can’t have the Iranian government getting it’s hands on our Lucky Charms!

And what happens when an Iranian, or Iranian descendant walks into a store and doesn’t speak farsi, and doesn’t have an Iranian accent…?! how will the US be safe when Iranians don’t announce they are Iranian when shopping?!

I call on the US government to force all Iranians to wear armbands with a crescent moon on them. One way or another, fellow patriots, we will solve the Iranian problem!


Don't swim in the kool-aid

This is just such nonsense. Discarded PCs going to the scrap pile or some recycling plant are far more interesting in terms of computational power. What Apple sells is in this regard is last decades technology dressed up very well.

If you are really worried, it’s the expensive high end graphics cards you have to worry about. Now THOSE are actually used in serious computational work.

iThings are just cheap toys.

Andrew D. Todd (user link) says:

The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same.

A further note: It seems, per the Council on American-Islamic Relations statement, that Apple privately contacted one of these people, seeking to defuse the situation. They told the aggrieved Iranian-American that she could buy an IPad or whatever, on-line. That is an old, recurrent pattern of the Segregation-Time in the South. For example, a hotel might offer a Black guest room service in order to keep him out of a public dining room. Out of sight, out of mind. The same applied to railroads and their dining cars. If one takes the University of Mississippi desegregation case, the State of Mississippi tried to buy off James Meredith with a scholarship he could use out-of-state. The White power structure was covertly offering economic justice, but not “justice of esteem.” What the power structure was concerned about was the reaction of the White man at the bottom, who already knew he wasn’t much in terms of the White Power structure, but who could console himself with the belief that at least he was axiomatically better than any Black. With desegregation, that kind of person’s world came tumbling down. The kind of person for whom an IPad matters a lot is _not_ the kind of person who has had various kinds of computers over the last thirty years.

Josef Anvil (profile) says:

Most offensive comment EVER!!!

“To my knowledge a southern baptist from Georgia has never crashed a plane into a sky scraper, at least that I know of.”

You are correct, no southern baptist from Georgia has ever crashed a plane into a sky scraper.

How many Iranian-Americans have gone around lynching innocent blacks or donning Klan uniforms and burning crosses on lawns and threatening blacks for no reason other than the color of their skin?

Georgia has one of the worst records of domestic terrorism in US history. Pull your head out of your ass and research the KKK and the amount of “terrorism” that organization has inflicted on US soil.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Dumb apple employee

See I was coming back to the story because I just learned that fact.
The problem is the woman who wanted to purchase the iPad was totally upfront with the news people that she was going to break the law and ship the iPad to Iran, so it is very possible he heard her planning to break the law and refused the sale.

The law might be stupid, Apple’s take on it might be stupid, but this was an employee doing the job not an evil racist plot.

Andrew D. Todd (user link) says:

Re: Re: Or a Subordinate Afraid of Being Fired.

Here is a paradox– during the 1960 Greensboro lunch counter sit-ins, the counter-service employees immediately refusing service to the Black students were themselves Black, as was the normal order of things in the South. A White man’s place in a restaurant was as the boss, not as a waiter or a cook. The same went for a range of kindred occupations, such as sleeping-car porter, or hotel bellhop. The lunch-counter workers were of a different social class than the students, and did not particularly tend to identify with them. Of course, a Black lunch-counter worker who had willingly served a Black student would surely have been fired, but beyond that, the lunch-counter workers displayed anger at the students for putting them between a rock and a hard place. The myth of White superiority in the Old South had a kind of counterpart, the myth of Black inferiority. A Black sleeping-car porter could not be blamed for being only a sleeping car porter. Everyone knew that train conductors were White men, so no blame attached to a Black sleeping-car porter for not becoming a conductor. Simply because the immediate enforcers of racist policies were often themselves Black does not mean that there was no racism.

Now, in the present case, there were two separate Iran-IPhone incidents, involving different customers, in different stores in the northern suburbs of Atlanta, with different sales people. There were probably additional incidents which did not get reported. However, similar incidents did not appear in the rest of the country, say in California. This suggests that the problem is very likely at Apple’s local district office. It has become apparent that Apple decided rather quickly that conducting “ethnicity checks” was no part of its policy. Apple almost immediately referred Ms. Sabet to its own website to buy an IPhone, making clear their position that the clerk was speaking only for himself in respect of ITAR. Further, the official Apple memorandum which was cited referred to the country Iran, and not to American citizens of Iranian origin. That would cover things like the store actually shipping merchandise to Iran. It would also cover Apple making the necessary technical arrangements with Iranian telephone companies to support IPhones in Iran. However, the “ethnicity checks” were probably invented by someone local, someone in a position of local power.

I am doubtful of the claim that the clerk somehow heard something decisive. People don’t talk that way. When friends or relatives talk to each other about other friends or relatives, they don’t need to mention what state or country these friends or relatives live in, because that is obvious in the context of the relationship, even though it is entirely obscure to an eves-dropping stranger. In such cases, one rarely uses the surname of the person referred to, because it is not necessary. They often use colloquial first names, which do not appear on any official piece of paper. The notion that a clerk could somehow insert himself into family gossip, and make any sense of it is highly suspect.

Going by the usual standard of “constructive dismissal” cases, telling an Iranian-American sales clerk that Iranian-American customers were undesirable as security risks per se, and requiring him to enforce a policy against them, would very likely be taken as legally equivalent to firing the clerk for being Iranian-American. One comparable case involved a Midwestern convenience store owner who sent a memorandum to his employees, along the lines of: “let’s take bets about who I’m going to fire next,” and was found by the courts to have engaged in constructive dismissal of an employee who walked out in response. The employee was therefore entitled to unemployment insurance. Of course, the problem with constructive dismissal is that while the dismissed employee can eventually get justice, it can take years, and that is not much help for someone with the rent due. We can assume that the Iranian-American clerk in the Sabet case was under duress, afraid of losing his job, and that the real discriminating party was somewhat further up the corporate ladder.

Anonymous Coward says:

For you techdirts mouth breathers, who will spill stupidity out of yur mouth, but wont even be bothered to read the article, highlighted below, they are following the LAW, it doesn’t matter is they can get it from china, it matters that we didn’t provide it.

An Alpharetta woman and one of her friends say the Apple Store turned them away after they heard them speaking Farsi.

One was trying to buy an iPad, the other an iPhone. When they were heard speaking the foreign language, they said the sales representative refused to sell them anything.

Apple says it’s simply following U.S. policy.

“Very hurtful, very embarrassing. I actually walked out in tears,” Sahar Sabet said about the experience.

Sabet is a U.S. citizen. Like most 19-year-olds, the University of Georgia student is never far from her iPhone.

So she was surprised Thursday when an employee at the Apple Store inside North Pointe Mall in Alpharetta refused to sell an iPad to her and her uncle after overhearing them speaking Farsi. The iPad was to be a gift for her cousin who lives in Iran. That is illegal

“When we said ‘Farsi, I’m from Iran,’ he said, ‘I just can’t sell this to you. Our countries have bad relations,'” Sabet said.

“I would say if you’re trying to buy an iPhone, don’t tell them anything about Iran. That would be your best bet,” said Zack Jafarzadeh, who had a similar experience at the Apple Store in Perimeter Mall.

Jafarzadeh said he was helping a friend buy an iPhone. That friend was from Iran, living and studying in the Atlanta area on a visa.

“We never talked about him going back to Iran or anything like that. He was just speaking full-fledged Farsi and the representative came back and denied our sale,” Jafarzadeh said.

If he is here on a visa, you must assume, he will go home with that iphone

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