Apple on Thursday blocked Iranian users from accessing its App Store.
The ban has apparently been imposed in the backdrop of US sanctions on Iran, which President Donald Trump strengthened last year.
The ban came nearly two years after the tech giant removed dozens of app submitted by the Iranian developers.
Apple does not officially operate in Iran and like other companies has been barred from doing business in the country due to US sanctions.
Thus, the Iranians have to import company’s products from other countries, mostly from Dubai and Hong Kong.
Before today, the Iranians were able to access portions of App Store meant for the country it imported the device from, view and download apps.
But now when accessing the App Store from an Iranian IP address, a message appears stating “The App Store is unavailable in the country or region you’re in.”
After today’s move, the Iranians are able to access the App Store only through a virtual private network (VPN), which is used to mask the physical identity of a user.
Apple had did not respond to an email to comment over the ban.
Apple explored the possibility of selling its products in Iran to compete rival Samsung in 2015 after tensions between the two countries somewhat eased, and it was expected that sanctions would be lifted.
After today’s move, the Iranians are able to access the App Store only through a virtual private network
However, the sanctions remained intact, and Apple had to drop the plan.
By January last year, Apple launched a crackdown against the apps on App Store developed by Iranian developers, telling them that facilitating transactions for Iranian entities “may not comply” with U.S. sanctions and that it would not accept apps from the country until “international trade laws are revised to allow this functionality.”
The removals continued until August last year, with Apple saying that:
“Under the U.S. sanctions regulations, the App Store cannot host, distribute or do business with apps or developers connected to certain U.S. embargoed countries.”