Washington, DC – Jamal Abdi, President of the National Iranian American Council, issued the following statement regarding the U.S. Treasury Department’s publication of additional guidance concerning the export of vital communications tools to the people of Iran. This follows the Biden administration’s move in September to publish General License D-2 in support of internet freedom in Iran:
“The publication of these frequently asked questions is yet another important move by the Biden administration to stand for internet freedom in Iran. During the past four months of protests we have seen Iranian authorities throttle internet access and target protesters and rights activists via their online activities.
“However, despite the expansive scope of General License D-2, many tech companies including in the United States have failed to take advantage of the license and restore access to technology and services that much of the rest of the world takes for granted. These hesitations from the private sector have helped ensure that the external response has been a step behind the repressive authorities in Iran. It is our hope that the new FAQs published today – addressing the scope of tools that are permitted for export without a license including cloud technology, as well as how firms could get paid for authorized fee-based services, among other steps – will underscore the administration’s commitment to supporting trade that supports the people of Iran’s ability to access critical online and anti-surveillance tools.
“There should be no excuse left for tech giants like Google, Amazon, Apple or other cloud providers like Digital Ocean not to restore critical services to the Iranian people. Even if select products and services fall outside the scope of the general license, the Biden administration has repeatedly indicated a forward-leaning posture to expedite licenses supportive of internet freedom on a case-by-case basis. Some firms have risen to the occasion – including Meta’s WhatsApp, which added a critical proxy function to make its service much more secure.
“We implore tech companies once again to take advantage of this license fully and immediately. No government should interfere with the ability to communicate freely online, and we are encouraged that the Biden administration has once again taken steps to ensure that sanctions do not interfere with this vital human right.”
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