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Georgia Apple Store Refuses To Sell iPad To Iranian-American Teen 1116

Posted by timothy
from the cultural-profiling dept.
pdclarry writes "An Iranian-American teenager was told by an Apple store employee that they could not sell her an iPad because it would violate U.S. trade restrictions. She returned to the store with a camera crew from a local TV station and was again turned down. Apparently an Apple employee heard her speaking Farsi. As he was also of Iranian extraction he recognized the language and used this as a basis for refusal."
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Georgia Apple Store Refuses To Sell iPad To Iranian-American Teen

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  • Obviously (Score:4, Informative)

    by Hentes (2461350) on Sunday June 24, 2012 @05:32PM (#40432069)

    As Apple's devices are locked and the company isn't allowed to deal with Iranian carriers, her cousin couldn't use the device even if they sold it to her.

  • by O('_')O_Bush (1162487) on Sunday June 24, 2012 @05:34PM (#40432087)
    " Sabet is a U.S. citizen and a student at the University of Georgia but the iPad was to be a gift for a cousin living in Iran."

    Sounds less like angst, and more like the Apple employee was doing what they should have done. Apple would be liable if they knowingly sold a iPad to someone about to break the export restrictions.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 24, 2012 @05:42PM (#40432165)

    Wrong. If the Apple store had any information that the teen intended to send the product to Iran they would indeed be held responsible under ITAR restrictions. In BATF terms it's a straw buy.

  • Re:Poetic Justice (Score:5, Informative)

    by BitterOak (537666) on Sunday June 24, 2012 @05:47PM (#40432211)

    Homosexuality is illegal in Iran, so it should be illegal for Iranians to buy iPads.

    No. It has nothing to do with homosexuality. It is a trade restriction based on the fact that Iran is allegedly developing nuclear weapons, and has also funded certain groups labeled as terrorist organizations. Technology found in products like iPads could be used for military or terrorist purposes, and that is the reason for these trade restrictions. This is not a surprising story: as someone who has worked in technology sales before, I know there are very serious regulations (with very severe penalties if not followed) involving sales of technology (even personal computers) to countries on these trade restriction lists. The store employee had no choice: he was obeying the law.

  • Only if she tells the person about to sell it to her that she intends to send it to her relative in Iran. At that point, it's like selling a gun to someone who says the intend to use it to break the law. You become liable.
  • by gnasher719 (869701) on Sunday June 24, 2012 @05:49PM (#40432223)

    There was absolutely nothing preventing them from selling the Ipad to the teen since they were in America and said nothing (according to them) about sending it overseas.

    And that is exactly the opposite of what the store employee claims. He claims that he understands Farsi and the woman said, in Farsi, that she would send the iPad to a relative in Iran. And at that point selling the iPad to her would indeed be breaking the law - helping someone to export goods from the USA to the Iran carries a penalty of up to 20 years in jail.

  • Read TFA (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 24, 2012 @05:49PM (#40432225)

    The second article specifically states that she intended to send the iPad to Iran. Stupid policy or no, this is not racial profiling.

  • Re:A sad day (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anubis IV (1279820) on Sunday June 24, 2012 @05:52PM (#40432259)

    1) It's disheartening that someone on /. cannot distinguish between a country and a race.

    2) The person doesn't just have "cultural links to said country", they're a citizen of that country and are studying in America on a visa.

    3) The salesperson apparently heard them saying it was a gift for her cousin, an Iranian citizen.

    4) Last I checked, if I sell something to someone who I know will be using it for illegal purposes, I can be held accountable for my part. Whether or not that was at play here, I can't say, but the employee may have felt that by having knowledge of the fact that the iPad would be going to Iran, they had a responsibility not to sell it.

    5) I don't necessarily agree with what the employee did (and the article's writeup isn't great either, so it's hard to form a solid opinion), but I do get annoyed at inflammatory comments like yours that are quick to cry "racism!" without a complete picture of the situation, especially when there are plenty of other factors involved.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 24, 2012 @05:55PM (#40432285)

    You don't remember the encryption export restrictions of the early through late '90s then, back when you were lucky to get 128 bit encryption inside the US (after a shitton of disclaimers) and 56 bit encryption outside (Gee, same as DVDs... wonder why that is.)

    Point is the trade restrictions cover a number of 'hostile' governments and export from the US is banned (this list previously included China, but not Taiwan, during the aforementioned era).

    While I would've bagged him if it was just an Iranian-American teen buying it for herself, as soon as she mentioned buying it for a cousin in Iran I have to agree with what the guy did: This would in fact be against said export restrictions, and while technically you could claim 'well it was inside the US and it'll be her problem if she gets caught exporting it', he did provide due diligence, and the reporters making this out as a big deal really don't understand what they're talking about.

    I really hope some feds nail her for this when she manages to purchase one and is trying to put it in the mail to send to her cousin.

  • Re:Poetic Justice (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 24, 2012 @05:58PM (#40432319)

    He broke no law. He was an American citizen, and trade with American citizens is not banned.

  • by readin (838620) on Sunday June 24, 2012 @06:02PM (#40432345)
    Typical case of a headline deliberately leaving out critical information to make something sound bad. TFAs contain two very useful pieces of information.

    1. The US citizen attempting to buy the export controlled product said "I'm from Iran". It is perfectly reasonable to assume someone who speaks Farsi and says their "from Iran" is in fact Iranian, especially when mistakenly assuming the other way could get you in a lot of legal trouble. The article makes no mention of the customer specially saying "I'm an American" or "I'm a US citizen". Even "I'm originally from Iran" would have been clarifying.

    2.

    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.

    It doesn't matter whether the friend was going back to Iran. Since the friend is Iranian (A US citizen wouldn't be "in the Atlanta area on a visa"), giving or selling the friend export-controlled technology would be a problem.

  • by suutar (1860506) on Sunday June 24, 2012 @06:06PM (#40432379)
    (Liquor store clerks hit this situation a lot; they're usually if not always forbidden to sell to an adult if they have reason to believe that the adult is going to supply it to a minor.)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 24, 2012 @06:10PM (#40432415)

    Raytheon got hit by this law selling radar systems through Canada. Apple is absolutely liable. It is a law.

  • Re:Incoming... (Score:3, Informative)

    by fredprado (2569351) on Sunday June 24, 2012 @06:10PM (#40432421)
    Read the fucking article. Apple DID sell to her in the end. So no, Apple is NOT forbidden by law to sell.
  • Re:Poetic Justice (Score:2, Informative)

    by bhagwad (1426855) on Sunday June 24, 2012 @06:11PM (#40432431) Homepage
    Merely speaking a language doesn't mean you're going to travel to a particular place or even that you live there. What kind of respect does Apple deserve here?
  • by fredprado (2569351) on Sunday June 24, 2012 @06:12PM (#40432439)
    No they wouldn't be liable, and the proof of that is that consumer services told her she could indeed buy and apologized to her in the end.
  • Re:Poetic Justice (Score:3, Informative)

    by Third Position (1725934) on Sunday June 24, 2012 @06:15PM (#40432471)

    Respect for obeying the law, which is apparently a novelty these days. Also, it wasn't merely for speaking a foreign language, the clerk overheard her saying it was for an uncle who was an Iranian resident.

  • Re:Poetic Justice (Score:5, Informative)

    by PopeRatzo (965947) on Sunday June 24, 2012 @06:22PM (#40432567) Homepage Journal

    God, you are a piece of shit.

    For those of you that are not aware, this "Third Position" that is in the above commenter's sig is a white supremacist group. They are little nazis who don't even have the courage to put on the jack boots and spiffy uniforms. They try to dress themselves up in political independent rhetoric, but if you scratch the surface, you find your basic nasty racist nativism, with an extra helping of blood libel. Hell, you don't even have to scratch the surface to find the neo-nazism, you just have to barely smudge it. Maybe look at the articles one or two links deep to find the Protocols of the Elders of Zion stuff. The "make sure our daughters stay pure so we protect our racial integrity" stuff. So don't be fooled: The Third Position is a racist, nativist, white supremacist organization. Uglier than most because they try to pretend they're something else. There's nothing "libertarian" or "patriotic" or "reasonable" about them. Their business is hate and brother, business is a-boomin'.

    Me, personally, I subscribe to the notion of that great stoic philosopher Aldo "The Apache" Raine who said, "Nah, see, we don't like that. We like our Nazis in uniform. That way we can spot 'em just like that." I too like to be able to see my Nazi's coming, so I've made it my own little special project to make sure this "Third Position" gets a little something they can't take off. It's my job to make sure that this Third Reich piece of shit cannot post a single comment, and I don't care if it's about compiling a Linux driver, without being clearly identified for what he is. As long as he's on Slashdot, I'm going to make sure he wears a nice big red swastika on his forehead. Because I hate nazis and I hate racists, even this kind of non-threatening Prussian Blue kind of nazi and racist.

    And to be honest, I hope someday this particular ugly little shit gets to meet the Bear Jew face to face and is given a little lesson in the game of baseball. Because that's the American Way.

  • Re:Poetic Justice (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 24, 2012 @06:23PM (#40432573)

    Actually trade with an American citizen is banned if you know, or have reason to know, that the item is being purchased for export.

  • Re:Poetic Justice (Score:5, Informative)

    by Mitsoid (837831) on Sunday June 24, 2012 @06:26PM (#40432599)

    She said she was buying it to send it as a gift to someone in Iran...

    It is against the law (and apple corporate policy) to do so....

    Seems like a non-story... She was a US citizen trying to break US law.. and she informed someone of this intent, and was denied the sale...

    If she wants to break the law she should probably just lie about what she's going to do with it... Would be against the law but this story is not really news-worthy

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 24, 2012 @06:29PM (#40432631)

    I work for Apple Retail, and yes - we do get training (during 'core training') about US export restrictions and that we can't knowingly sell to someone breaking the export restrictions. The list of countries is given and discussed - but it's extremely rare that a situation involving it arises.

  • Re:Poetic Justice (Score:5, Informative)

    by Mitsoid (837831) on Sunday June 24, 2012 @06:29PM (#40432633)

    In Farsi she said "Its a gift for my grandmother in Iran" or some such.. and the employee understood what she said as he understood the language.

    So, She was NOT denied the sale because of her origins, but because she said in Farsi she was going to purchase the product and violate US law (and apple policy)

    If you walk into best buy and say "I'm gonna rip these people off with this bogus return" in Farsi, and the guy behind the counter hears that, you'll bet he will deny the return! That's basically what happened here...

  • Re:Poetic Justice (Score:5, Informative)

    by drkim (1559875) on Sunday June 24, 2012 @06:43PM (#40432775)

    The employee heard her say she was buying it for her Uncle in Iran ...and refused the sale. It wasn't just that she was speaking Farsi.

  • by Mitsoid (837831) on Sunday June 24, 2012 @06:48PM (#40432843)

    Can a gun shop owner deny a sale to someone who says "As soon as you sell this to me, I'm going to go home and kill my Wife"
    YES.

    That's what happened here... Girl said "I'm going to send this to Iran" while speaking in Farsi, and the employee overheard and understood it.

    Nearly all US businesses (except for state-specific exceptions) are allowed to have policies that are non-discriminatory.

    Refusing a sale that will directly and knowingly lead to an illegal act is not discriminatory... She said it in Farsi, but she said "I'm going to do something illegal after I buy this"... The employee tried to stop her from doing something illegal and followed Apple's Non-discriminatory policy.

  • Re:Poetic Justice (Score:5, Informative)

    by shoes58 (1203522) on Sunday June 24, 2012 @06:57PM (#40432937)
    Massive respect, PopeRatzo, for cluing in those interested about this "Third Position" group. I can't believe just how offensive what they represent is. And yes, I am white. Please, fellow Slashdotters, be aware of this group. Just look for yourself... http://american3rdposition.com/ [american3rdposition.com] I rarely post, but read every day. THIS issue is post-worthy...
  • Re:Poetic Justice (Score:4, Informative)

    by PlusFiveTroll (754249) on Sunday June 24, 2012 @07:02PM (#40432989) Homepage

    Um, no. When a solider goes out of country they are not becoming a citizen of whatever country they are going to. That said, the soldiers are expected not to sell their computer hardware to jurisdictions that are not allowed to have it.

  • Re:Poetic Justice (Score:2, Informative)

    by bhagwad (1426855) on Sunday June 24, 2012 @07:41PM (#40433385) Homepage
    The employee never heard anything of the sort.
  • Re:Poetic Justice (Score:5, Informative)

    by aklinux (1318095) on Sunday June 24, 2012 @07:52PM (#40433499) Homepage

    No. They don't need proof.

    Overhearing them saying it is enough to stop the sale. The Apple employ was in the right. Once s/he hears it is intended to be exported to a prohibited destination, that employee needs to stop and make certain it's OK before proceeding.

    This is something that companies have been having to watch for for years. A company I used to be part owner of had issues with this in the early 1980's when we were looking at exporting Z80 based devices to Asian countries.

    In it's day, the Z80 could not be exported to certain counties.

  • Re:Poetic Justice (Score:3, Informative)

    by Thruen (753567) on Sunday June 24, 2012 @10:46PM (#40434601)
    A ridiculous analogy. Think more along the lines of trying to buy a tobacco pipe after the clerk heard you say it's going to be used for pot, it's illegal for them to sell it to you based only on that. A mere statement of intent can actually determine the legality of purchasing something. Intent is actually a very important concept in the legal system, many things are legal until your intent changes.
  • Re:Poetic Justice (Score:5, Informative)

    by gaspar ilom (859751) on Sunday June 24, 2012 @11:07PM (#40434725)

    > to purchase the product and violate US law (and apple policy)

    According to Forbes [forbes.com], items that can be purchased at retail do not require an export license.

  • Re:Poetic Justice (Score:4, Informative)

    by LingNoi (1066278) on Monday June 25, 2012 @12:21AM (#40435173)

    That's not what happened. The clerk also knew the language and (i'm guessing since she admits it in the article) overheard her saying she was going to ship it to her cousin in Iran. It's against the US law to do that. It's also why sourceforge has this stupid thing about banning all projects from Iran until they're unticked to confirm they don't contain any encryption.

    This isn't even the first time something stupid like this has happened. SSL for example had the same problems back in the day.

  • Re:Poetic Justice (Score:4, Informative)

    by cyn1c77 (928549) on Monday June 25, 2012 @01:14AM (#40435453)

    And as a fellow Indian, let me correct you a bit....

    Everyone's a racist. It's just human nature, not some deep rooted evil as it is made out to be by politically correct people.

    Is that what you tell yourself to sleep at night?

    Bigotry is a choice. We are not born racist, but many people are conditioned to be so from birth.

  • Re:Poetic Justice (Score:5, Informative)

    by Asic Eng (193332) on Monday June 25, 2012 @05:35AM (#40436513)

    Realistically: the guy refusing the sale is Iranian-American. So his actions were probably not based on racist beliefs.The customer speaks Farsi, and he does too - so he was able to overhear what she was telling her uncle. From the second article: [the] employee [...] 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.

    So she wanted to export it to Iran and Apple doesn't want to export to Iran. The employee knew what she wanted to do.

  • Not so sure... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Theaetetus (590071) <theaetetus DOT slashdot AT gmail DOT com> on Monday June 25, 2012 @09:07AM (#40437689) Homepage Journal

    > to purchase the product and violate US law (and apple policy)

    According to Forbes [forbes.com], items that can be purchased at retail do not require an export license.

    While the guy at Forbes does seem to say that, he links to the US Treasury's site [treasury.gov] which states:

    EXPORTS TO IRAN - In general, unless licensed by OFAC, goods, technology, or services may not be exported, reexported, sold or supplied, directly or indirectly, from the United States or by a U.S. person, wherever located, to Iran or the Government of Iran...
    In general, a person may not export from the U.S. any goods, technology or services, if that person knows or has reason to know such items are intended specifically for supply, transshipment or reexportation to Iran.

    There doesn't seem to be "any goods, technology or services except those that can be purchased at retail" language there.

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