News & Publications

May 16, 2014

NIAC Welcomes Yahoo Decision to Reverse Iranian Email Restrictions

Press Release - For Immediate Release

Washington, DC – NIAC welcomes the decision of Yahoo to reverse its long-standing policy and ensure that the people of Iran are able to create Yahoo email accounts by September 2014. This follows the sustained campaign of NIAC and other groups to ensure US sanctions do not limit Iranians’ access to vital communication tools.

“Today, Yahoo is making the right decision,” said NIAC Policy Director, Jamal Abdi. “While the Iranian government continues to censor and monitor the Internet inside Iran, it is important that US tech companies like Yahoo not over-enforce sanctions and leave Iranian human rights defenders in an even worse bind.”

Yahoo revised its registration process in September 2013 to require users to provide a phone number for new email accounts. Country codes belonging to countries sanctioned by the United States were disabled. This effectively prevented Iranians from setting up new Yahoo accounts or activating Yahoo’s more secure “two-step verification” feature. Yahoo is the most widely-used email service in Iran.

Soon after this change, NIAC teamed up with groups like Berim, United For Iran, and the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran to send a letter calling on Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer to reverse policy and allow email for Iranians. Since 2009, NIAC and other groups have led a movement seeking to lift sanctions on communications tools for Iranian people – a campaign to which the Obama Administration has proven responsive.

“This is a big deal,” said Abdi. “Yahoo’s change of course shows once again how important popular pressure is in convincing companies to limit sanctions over-enforcement. Yahoo’s decision is directly responsive to the outcry from the Iranian-American community.”   


The National Iranian American Council (NIAC) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the interests of the Iranian-American community. We accomplish our mission by supplying the resources, knowledge and tools to enable greater civic participation by Iranian Americans and informed decision-making by policymakers.

Back to top