March 20, 2012

NIAC Applauds Efforts to Address Growing “Electronic Curtain” Over Iran

For Immediate Release
Contact: Jamal Abdi

Washington, DC – The National Iranian American Council (NIAC) welcomes the decision by the Obama Administration to lift sanctions on additional categories of personal communication tools to support the free exchange of information with the Iranian people, which President Obama announced in his speech wishing the Iranian people a happy Norooz. NIAC strongly encouraged today’s action, and has worked extensively with members of Congress and Executive Branch officials to ensure that US sanctions do not infringe upon the Iranian people’s basic rights to access information and communications tools.

“Today’s announcement is another important step to ensure that U.S. sanctions don’t continue to inadvertently aid the efforts of the Iranian government to put an electronic curtain between the Iranian people and the rest of the world,” said NIAC Policy Director Jamal Abdi.

Under today’s announcement, the following services and software may generally be exported to Iran without a license:

  • Personal Communications (e.g., Yahoo Messenger, Google Talk, Microsoft Live, Skype (non-fee based))
  • Personal Data Storage (e.g., Dropbox)
  • Internet Browsers (e.g., Google Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer)
  • Browser Plug-ins (e.g., Flashplayer, Shockwave, Java)
  • Document Readers (e.g., Acrobat Readers)
  • Free Mobile Apps Related to Personal Communications
  • RSS Feed Readers and Aggregators (e.g., Google Feed Burner).

In addition, the Treasury Department has announced a “favorable licensing policy” with regards to other categories of tools, including those related to web hosting, online advertising, and paid Internet communication tools. Under this policy, the onus is still on individual companies to apply for a license so their products can be used in Iran. NIAC strongly urges companies like Google, GoDaddy, and Skype, which could provide more secure telephone services, to take advantage of this new policy so that Iranians can benefit from their services.

“We hope companies will now take advantage of new policy, but the U.S. Government’s work is not done,” said Abdi. “Further efforts are needed so that services like satellite Internet and hardware for accessing such services are no longer blocked by sanctions.”




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