Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Coalition Asks Apple to Train Sales Staff on Export Rules 
Request follows reports of Iranian-Americans being denied service
(WASHINGTON, D.C., 6/26/12) -- The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today joined a coalition of Iranian-American and civil liberties organizations* calling on Apple to train its entire sales staff on the proper application of U.S. sanctions laws targeting Iran.
In a joint letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook, drafted following reports of Farsi-speaking American customers being denied service at company stores, the coalition states in part:
"Through this letter, we would like to bring to your attention the practical nationwide application of Apple's policies reflecting U.S. embargo laws with the expectation of minimizing any future incidents involving misinterpretation of U.S. law and/or potential discriminatory practices by Apple employees.
"We understand that Apple's official company policy at issue in the abovementioned incidents is almost verbatim taken from the Iranian Transaction Regulations ('ITR'), specifically 31 C.F.R. § 560.204, and is in line with U.S. economic sanctions targeting Iran. However, at issue here is the correct application of that policy by Apple's employees. ...
"If the Apple employees' conduct was based upon the mere fact that the individuals mentioned above were speaking the Farsi/Persian language and Apple's policy is to deny sales to customers merely based on a foreign language being spoken, this would be at best a gross misinterpretation of the sanctions targeting Iran and a violation of federal law at worst. ...
"Of additional concern is the inconsistent manner in which Apple is attempting to enforce the embargo law. Is Apple asking all customers about the ultimate destination of its products? Is Apple relying on customers volunteering that information? Is Apple's policy that customers may purchase whatever items they like as long as they do not mention or imply the destination of the items? That is, is Apple training its retail employees to enforce a policy that inherently requires its employees to determine the nationality of a client in a manner that violates federal civil rights laws? To ensure consistency in enforcement, we ask that Apple adopt standardized practices that would apply to every customer at the time of purchase. ...
"We therefore ask that you take the necessary steps to properly investigate the incidents reported and train your entire sales staff about the proper application of Apple's export compliance policy. We also ask that you issue a formal apology to any customers who may have been harmed by the application of your current policy referenced above for the harm caused to them by any Apple employees."
When this controversy first came to public attention, CAIR called on Apple to change its policy.
*Organizations sponsoring the joint letter to Apple include:
  • Iranian American Bar Association
  • American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Georgia
  • Asian Law Caucus
  • Council on American-Islamic Relations
  • National Iranian American Council
  • PARS Equality Center
  • Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
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CONTACT: CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, E-Mail: ihooper@cair.com; CAIR Communications Manager Amina Rubin, 202-488-8787, 202-341-4171, E-Mail: arubin@cair.com

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