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Google opens Play Store to Iran after US lifts sanctions

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Iranian Flag (Flickr)
Iranian Flag (Flickr)

Thanks to recently lightened technology sanctions, Google announced this week apps in the Google Play will now be available to users in Iran. Developers still can't collect money from Iranian users, but free apps can unlocked for Iranian users through a checkbox on the developer console. Google's announcement stayed mum on the reasons for the shift, but it's consistent with many of their recent efforts to promote web freedom in underserved nations, including their recent outreach to Burma.

The crux of the issue is the General License D, an exemption from the general US sanctions which allows for the export of physical hardware or commercial software and services to Iran. The license was put in place in May of 2013, in advance of the Iranian election, and many companies have responded by rushing into the well-wired but often censored country. This same week, Apple made a similar decision to begin permitting the resale of Macs and iOS devices to Iranian customers.