In May the United States lifted sanctions on the export of electronics and computer products to Iran, and now Apple is following suit by modifying its own policies. The Wall Street Journal reports that Cupertino will begin selling its products to customers who plan on bringing them or sending them to the country. "We've been told by the U.S. government that most Apple products are covered by regulatory changes announced by the Treasury Department," an Apple spokesperson told the Journal in a statement. "As a result, Apple is no longer banned from selling Macs and iOS devices to customers who plan to bring or send those products to Iran."
While the US has had sanctions in place for decades, the situation started to thaw in the wake of the Arab Spring movement. Computing devices, social networks, and mobile technology have been an important communication tool for activists in Iran, and authorities and government forces have responded by cracking down on the use of the internet and related services. The situation led to the Obama administration calling out the Iranian government in March of last year; the US softened sanctions at that time to allow the export of some software products and services. The more recent changes are an escalation of those efforts, aimed at empowering the citizens of Iran by making it easier for them to to communicate and share information online.