An Apple store refused to sell an iPad to a young woman speaking Farsi on the grounds that they might then take it to Iran despite the fact that she was an American citizen.
An Apple Store in the state Georgia refused to sell an iPad to an American teenager because she spoke the Iranian language, Farsi, in the store. A student in the nearby city of Atlanta was also banned from buying an iPhone for the same reason, according to a report by local TV channel.
“I just can’t sell this to you. Our countries have such bad relations, and you're wearing clothing typical of that region,” 19-year-old Sahar Sabet was told after she tried to buy an iPad in her local Apple Store. She had been talking with her uncle in Farsi.
From what it appears, Apple did understand the laws while those in the actual store didn’t. She spoke to customer service and bought the machine online.
However, this does lead to something of a larger question. Many have dealt with exports of all sorts of things to countries where there might be export restrictions. Some of these items include nuclear materials, space equipment, military technology, etc., requiring everything from a simple license up to the type where they’re checking one's background from the last decade. Usually, there is always a let out in those license requirements. If you could buy it, then there was no requirement for a license.
For the simple reason that it would be hectic to try and monitor tens or hundreds of thousands of computer shops to make sure that the Russians didn’t get an x386 machine, many choose not to investigate such matters further.
According to Apple, there is a "dire need" for licenses for their equipment. For some, it sounds an extraordinary waste of time to try and control retail outlets for common technologies. "It's just absurd in my opinion," says Amber, a marketing professional in Atlanta. "Companies, like Apple or Barnes and Noble, are always trying to find new ways to control the sale of their products. Welcome to the 21st century: the global market makes it easy to buy your products online."
Many understand that Iran is now under a total embargo from the US (and the EU one is getting almost as restrictive) and there may indeed be a place for controls on those traveling to the country. However, trying to control imports and exports at the level of retail outlets appears ridiculous to many Americans.
"It's very silly actually," commented John da Silva, an entrepreneur with an import-export business based in Baltimore. "But then the last decade hasn’t been notable for people being adult and sensible about security really, has it?"