Amid internet shutdowns in Iran, US moves to allow tech companies to help Iranians access information online



CNN

Amid Internet shutdowns by the Iranian government in the in the face of widespread protestsThe US government has taken a step intended to allow technology companies to help the Iranian people access information online, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced on Friday.

“It is clear that the Iranian government is afraid of its own people,” Blinken said in a statement. “Mahsa Amini died senselessly and tragically, and now the government is violently cracking down on peaceful protesters, rightly angry at her loss.”

Blinken said the Treasury Department issued a blanket license, which authorizes certain transactions that would otherwise be prohibited by sanctions, “to advance our efforts and commitments to ensure that the people of Iran can freely access information online.”

“We are taking this step in a difficult context,” he said. “The Iranian government has cut off internet access to most of its 80 million citizens to prevent them – and the world – from watching its violent crackdown on peaceful protesters.”

“(W)e will help ensure that the people of Iran are not kept isolated and in the dark. This is a concrete step to provide meaningful support to Iranians demanding that their basic rights be respected” , did he declare.

According to the Treasury Department, the general license expands the categories of software and services that can be provided “to include social media platforms, collaboration platforms, videoconferencing, as well as cloud-based services,” gives ” additional authorization for services that support communications tools to help ordinary Iranians resist repressive internet censorship and surveillance tools deployed by the Iranian regime” and “removes the requirement to verify that communications are of “personal” nature.

It “also continues to allow anti-virus and anti-malware software; anti-tracking software; mobile operating systems and related software; anti-censorship tools and related software; virtual private network (VPN) client software; and related software,” noting that “these tools protect the ability of Iranians to express themselves freely and courageously resist the regime’s oppression,” Treasury said.

The announcement comes a day after the US published sanctions against the Iranian morality policeunder whose care Amiri died.