Apple bans radio app that is front for Iranian taxi service

Apple bans radio app that is front for Iranian taxi service ...
theguardian.com 31/01/2020 Internet-IT

Keywords:#, #American, #App_Store, #Iran, #Iranian, #Snapp, #Theguardian.com, #US, #Uber, #VPN

Users of RadickRadio app with Iranian IP address got access to ride-hailing service Snapp
By Alex Hern
A digital radio app has been removed from Apple’s App Store after it was discovered to be a front for an Iranian cab-hailing firm attempting to sneak past US sanctions.
RadickRadio first appeared on the App Store in early July offering a selection of radio stations playing genres including classic rock, folk and pop hits. The app’s thousands of reviews added to the impression that it was a simple music player, and to anyone outside of Iran that was all it appeared to be.
But for users connecting from an Iranian IP address, the app showed a completely different face, allowing access to Snapp, an Uber-style ride-hailing service that has grown domestically in the absence of foreign competition.
The subterfuge, first reported by the Verge, appears to have been an attempt to evade US sanctions preventing American businesses from working with Iranian ones. Apple took a harsh line enforcing the sanctions, blocking the entire country from accessing the App Store in 2018, having banned all apps from Iranian developers the year before.
The Snapp/RadickRadio deception allowed Iranians who could access the internet through a VPN and spoof their IP address to appear to be from a different country a brief window to install the app on their phones.
While Apple can prevent apps from being installed or updated, the company does not delete already-downloaded apps from users’ phones, meaning those Iranians who did manage to download RadickRadio before it was removed from the store on Tuesday will now have access to the cab company.
The trickery was not particularly deep. The Iranian technology press was openly discussing the relaunch of Snapp. One site, click.ir, reported that “the Snapp app is back in iOS with the new name … to download the app on iOS, you need to search RadickRadio in the App Store. By installing this, you will gain access to Snapp.”
Apple did not reply to a request for comment.
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