NIAC Letter to Adobe on End User License Agreement

 
On December 27, 2017, the National Iranian American Council wrote Adobe Systems, Inc. expressing concern that its End User Licensing Agreement requires users of Adobe products to certify they “are not a national of Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Sudan, Syria, or any other country to which the United States embargoes goods.” As stated in the letter, NIAC is concerned that this requirement discriminates against Iranian nationals – including those in the United States – and is not required by U.S. sanctions laws.

NIAC hopes to work with Adobe to ameliorate the concerns of the Iranian-American community while adhering to existing sanctions obligations. You can see the letter as a PDF here or below:

December 27, 2017    

Mr. Jace Johnson

Adobe Systems Incorporated
345 Park Avenue
San Jose, CA 95110-2704

Dear Mr. Johnson:

We are writing on behalf of the National Iranian American Council (“NIAC”) – the largest grassroots organization in the United States representing the interests of Iranian Americans – regarding Adobe’s End User License Agreement, which appears to discriminate against nationals of Iran, including those persons who are lawfully resident in the United States. Specifically, Adobe’s End User License Agreement requires a person – prior to downloading or otherwise using an Adobe software product – to certify that they “are not a national of Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Sudan, Syria, or any other country to which the United States embargoes goods.”[1] It is our view that Adobe has a mistaken view as to the scope of current U.S. trade sanctions targeting Iran, and we hope to work with Adobe to ensure that its End User License Agreement(s) is consistent with U.S. sanctions laws and other trade restrictions and refrains from taking an overbroad view of U.S. law in a manner that discriminates against Iranian Americans.  

It is true that the United States imposes a comprehensive trade embargo with Iran – the provisions of which are codified in the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations (“ITSR”), 31 C.F.R. Part 560. Pursuant to the ITSR, U.S. persons – including Adobe – are generally prohibited from engaging in the export, re-export, sale, or supply of goods, services, or technology – including software – to Iran or the Government of Iran, absent an applicable exemption or a license authorization.[2] This includes situations where a U.S. person exports goods, services, or technology to third-country parties with knowledge or reason to know that the goods are specifically intended for re-export or transshipment to Iran. 

However, Adobe’s End User License Agreement appears to suggest that the export, re-export, sale, or supply of its software products to nationals of Iran – even if lawfully resident in the United States – is prohibited under U.S. law. That is not a correct statement of U.S. law, but instead risks discriminating against U.S. persons, particularly Iranian Americans, lawfully resident in the United States.[3] More appropriately, Adobe’s End User License Agreement should – subject to the condition outlined below – require persons downloading or otherwise using Adobe’s software products to certify that they are not downloading the product while based in Iran or intent on re-exporting or otherwise transferring the software product to parties based in Iran. 

In addition, we would also urge Adobe to consider the effect of the issuance of General License D-1, “General License with Respect to Certain Services, Software, and Hardware Incident to Personal Communications,” which authorized the export, re-export, sale, or supply of certain services, software, and hardware incident to personal communications to Iran.[4] It is our view that General License D-1 may render permissible the export, re-export, sale, or supply of many, if not all, Adobe software products to Iran and would negate the need for Iran to be included in Adobe’s End-User License Agreement at all. We would welcome the opportunity to discuss this matter with representatives from Adobe to ensure that Adobe acts consistent with current U.S. sanctions laws and trade restrictions without taking an overbroad reading of any potentially applicable sanctions prohibitions.

We look forward to working with Adobe to address the concerns of the Iranian-American community. We appreciate your consideration and look forward to your response.

Most Respectfully,

Jamal Abdi

Policy Director, NIAC

 

[1] Adobe, End User License Agreement, https://www.adobe.com/support/downloads/license.html.

[2] 31 C.F.R. § 560.204.

[3] It is apparent that Adobe’s End User License Agreement is not only incorrect, but also out of date. For example, the United States no longer imposes trade embargoes on Iraq or Sudan – two of the countries identified in the End User License Agreement as embargoed countries. We would thus urge Adobe to revisit and accordingly revise its End User License Agreement to render it consistent with current U.S. sanctions laws and trade restrictions.   

[4] General License D-1, “General License with Respect to Certain Services, Software, and Hardware Incident to Personal Communications,” U.S. Dep’t of Treasury, Feb, 7, 2014, https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/Programs/Documents/iran_gld1.pdf.  

NIAC Joins Letter Demanding ICE Release Detention Records

The National Iranian American Council joined several other organizations in signing onto a letter to the Department of Homeland Security demanding the release of detention records from the office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The release of detention records would provide advocacy groups with information needed to stand against the Trump administration’s attack on sanctuary cities and immigrants in general.

Organizations signing included the National Immigration Law Center and Asian Americans Advancing Justice, alongside 40 others.

The letter highlighted the Department’s legal obligation to comply with the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). FOIA allows individuals and organizations to demand access to records.

The FOIA statute permits the withholding of information only if an agency reasonably foresees that releasing the information would be harmful to operations or its disclosure is otherwise prohibited by law. The letter argues that ICE overuses the excuse that a disclosure would harm its operational capabilities in order to avoid providing information.

The letter referred to similar FOIA requests filed by state representatives and law enforcement agencies as evidence for the necessity of greater transparency regarding ICE activities and of the broader policy implications of the issue.

The records being withheld are known as “Declined Detainer Outcome Reports,” which are meant to be released weekly. The reports detail which non-Federal jurisdictions in the country do not honor detainer requests issued from the federal ICE office. Given the inaccurate and misleading nature of information contained in previous reports, access to the data is required for advocates to have proper insight into the Administration’s immigration crackdown.

The letter demands access to previously released data on sanctuary cities as a minimum requirement under the FOIA.

 

NIAC Calls on Authorities to Release Detained Iranian Citizen Holding Valid Visa

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Ryan Costello
Phone: 202-386-6325
Email: rcostello@niacouncil.org

The National Iranian American Council issued the following statement on the arrest of an Iranian citizen with a valid visa in Oregon:

“The National Iranian American Council calls upon authorities to release and explain the arrest and detention of Alia Ghandi, an Iranian citizen who holds a valid U.S. visa. Ghandi’s arrest raises a number of concerns that Iranians are still being unfairly targeted by immigration enforcement due to their national origin, in spite of court orders putting a hold on Trump’s Muslim ban.”

“Ghandi traveled to Oregon to visit her sister who is a U.S. citizen, where upon arrival a customs officer reportedly questioned her on why she had so many documents with her and subsequently denied her entry. Alia protested the deportation and was promptly arrested and sent to the Tacoma Northwest Detention Center. Alia’s sister has not yet been permitted to visit her in jail even though she has been detained for over 48-hours.”

“Alia’s sister claims she has since been asked if she wanted Alia – an architect – to remain in the U.S. and serve as a babysitter for her two young children. We understand that customs agents have a responsibility to ask tough questions, albeit in a respectful manner. According to Matthew dos Santos, Legal Director of ACLU Oregon, Alia has decided to claim asylum, which is her right, and the U.S. has an obligation to hear her case. Rather than being thrown in jail, asylum seekers should be welcomed, assisted, and permitted a chance to be heard by a judge.”

“Visitors from Muslim and Middle Eastern countries have long felt unwelcome at U.S. airports and the entry process – even with a visa – remains arbitrary. We fear that the Trump administration and its Muslim Ban executive orders have empowered a culture of xenophobia rather than professionalism within Customs and Border Patrol, as numerous examples including Ghandi’s demonstrate. Further, this climate of fear risks unduly targeting and diminishing Iranian’s desire to even pursue their dreams or visit their family here in the United States. The fate of valid visa holders should not be determined by the “luck of the draw” in which agent greets them at the border and detention should be reserved for criminals.”

 

NIAC Calls for Grace Period on Inhumane Trump Ban

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jamal Abdi
Email: jabdi@niacouncil.org

Washington, DC – The National Iranian American Council issued the following statement calling for a grace period on President Trump’s ban on nationals of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen so that they can be reunited with their families:

With more and more reports of visa holders and lawful permanent residents being detained at U.S. airports, the horrific nature of Trump’s Muslim ban is fully apparent for the entire world to see. Families are being ripped apart without warning and with no assurance of when they will be reunited. Students traveling abroad at the time of the ban are horrified that they might not be able to return to continue their studies. Children are being detained along with their parents when they were just seeking to return home. This is a dark day in the history of this country.

If the Trump administration has any shred of humanity and decency, it will institute a grace period without delay in order to enable all lawful permanent residents, dual nationals and visa holders from Iran and the other targeted countries to return to the United States to reunite with their families and return to their daily lives. Anything less is a complete disgrace.

NIAC will continue to fight to overturn this unjust and inhumane ban on Iranians and other nationals.

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Steps Iranians Can Take to Avoid Unwarranted Bank Account Closures

NIAC Banking Infographic

Click to view larger image

Recently, there have been increasing numbers of cases in which US banks, citing US sanctions on Iran, have either closed or restricted the accounts of both Iranians based in the US and Iranian Americans who travel to Iran. This is the result of either poor legal advice provided to banks regarding sanctions compliance or the result of the increased scrutiny of accounts held by Iranian nationals, combined with extreme caution on the part of banks.

NIAC has and will continue to work with banks and the US government to fully resolve this issue. In the meantime, we would like to provide some precautionary measures that Iranians and Iranian Americans can take to help ensure they do not run into this problem.

For Persian translation of this document, click here.

(1)  For Iranian nationals who are not US citizens, make sure your bank has timely, accurate information regarding your current place of residence, including any identification showing US residence.

Under US law, US banks are prohibited from providing services to “ordinary residents in Iran,” except when those “ordinary residents” are not in Iran. In other words, if you are an Iranian student who is a resident of Iran but presently based in the US, US banks can provide their services to you only as long as you are outside Iran.

However, when US banks have uncertainty as to whether an Iranian customer is still based in the US or if the customer may have returned to Iran, they have increasingly decided to close or restrict the customer’s bank account. That is why, for instance, Iranian students studying in the US who may not have a fixed US address or US identification on file with their bank have been most affected by banks’ cautious approach.

The best thing Iranian nationals who are not US citizens can do is to make sure that your bank has timely and accurate information of your current place of residence, so as to minimize the chances that they will pick up your account during their periodic screens. Providing identification that details your residence could be helpful to assuage bank concerns about your location at any given time.

(2)  Do not initiate a transaction or access your bank account when in Iran.

Under US law, US banks are prohibited from servicing your account when you are accessing your account or initiating a transaction from Iran. If you attempt to do either of these two things while in Iran, the transaction will be rejected and your bank will likely place a restriction on your account. That restriction will likely only be lifted when you provide information to the bank’s satisfaction that you are no longer in Iran and are not ordinarily resident in Iran.

You should not access your account or initiate a transaction from your account when in Iran. However, it is important for you to know that US banks should not restrict your account when you simply travel to Iran. As long as you are not ordinarily resident in Iran and you do not access your account while in Iran, you should be able to travel to and from Iran without any problems arising with your US bank account.

(3)  If your bank account is closed or restricted, you have options.

Having your bank account closed or restricted is a major inconvenience, and for some (including Iranian students studying in the US), much more than that. However, it is important for you to know that you have options if your account is restricted or closed by your bank.

Typically, your bank wants proof of US residence. If you can provide this to your bank, your bank will likely lift the restriction or reopen your account.

If not, though, it is important to remember that your account is not “blocked”. You can take all your funds in your bank and transfer them elsewhere.

NIAC Condemns Arrest of “Happy” Youth

Washington, DC – National Iranian American Council (NIAC) released the following statement:

NIAC condemns Iranian authorities for arresting six youth and forcing them to repent on state television for producing a video in which they danced to the song “Happy.” 

This is a stunt aimed at generating media attention and maximum embarrassment for Iran. There are forces within Iran’s government who want to keep the Iranian people isolated from the world. They have escalated human rights violations over the past eight months in an attempt to quash hopes for greater openness internally, and to try to block positive relations from being built externally. Now they are arresting kids for dancing to music videos and forcing them to confess on state TV. 

The irony that the Iranian youth were arrested for dancing to a song called “Happy” seems to be lost on the Iranian authorities. The Iranian people cannot be forced to live in a world where enrichment is a right, but happiness is not.

Without Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to make incendiary statements to poison Iran’s reputation internationally, hardliners are carrying out provocative acts like this one in a bid to cling to the status quo and keep Iran weak and isolated. 

This latest incident comes just days after Rouhani publicly called for an end to restrictions against Internet communications in Iran, saying, “We must recognize our citizens’ right to connect to the World Wide Web.”

The Iranian government has a responsibility to uphold it commitments to international human rights obligations. President Rouhani must take action to uphold his commitments and not remain passive in face of these violations.

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Iranian-American beaten in racist attack in NY

New York – The Iranian-American owner of a high-end nail and facial salon that caters to the likes of Jennifer Lopez was beaten and robbed yesterday in what Long Island cops called a bias attack. The attack followed two weeks of phone calls in which Iranian-American Zohreh Assemi was called a "terrorist" and told to "get out of town," friends and family said. Read full story.

NIAC Protests Dispatch Cartoon Depicting Iranians as Cockroaches

Washington DC – The Columbus Dispatch published a cartoon on Tuesday depicting Iran as a sewer on a map of the Middle East with cockroaches crawling out of it. By publishing this racist cartoon, the editors of the Dispatch have insulted and propagated hate against the Iranian American community.

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NIAC Welcomes Release of Iranian Americans

Contact: Trevor FitzGibbon
Fenton Communications
202-246-5303

Concern for other prisoners remains

Washington DC – The National Iranian American Council welcomes the release and impending repatriation of three Iranian Americans detained in Iran for the past several months. Just one day after Haleh Esfandiari’s departure from Iran, authorities have returned the passport of Parnaz Azima and have announced the release of Kian Tajbakhsh on bail. NIAC remains cautiously hopeful that a fourth Iranian American, Ali Shakeri, will soon be released as well.

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Merrill Lynch Faces Lawsuits from Iranian Americans

Washington DC – “From a seat on a Montgomery bus to a seat on Merrill Lynch’s trading floor, the struggle for civil rights continues,” said Majid Borumand, a former Merrill Lynch employee who is now filing a lawsuit against the company. Borumand’s private lawsuit, filed last Friday, will supplement a lawsuit already filed in June by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

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Iran Human Rights Violations, US Policy Criticized at NIAC Conference

Washington DC – "I am incensed by what has happened to Haleh Esfandiari," said Congressmen James Moran (D-VA) addressing a packed room on Capitol Hill last Thursday. Moran, an outspoken critic of human rights violators, was just one of the many distinguished panelists who spoke at NIAC's second major Capitol Hill policy conference of the year. The arrest of Dr. Esfandiari and other Iranian Americans, the Virginia lawmaker continued, was an indication of the "utter lack of courage and conscience on the part of the current Iranian leadership. It's inexcusable and it shows how isolated Tehran has become."

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Five extraordinary Iranian Americans love both countries but loathe their leaders’ war talk

San Francisco – No one reads the headlines about the U. S.-Iran imbroglio — which swings wildly between threats of war and flirtations with diplomacy — more closely than Iranian Americans, who number 50,000 in the Bay Area. For them, Iran is not part of the "axis of evil," it's where a grandmother, brother or favorite cousin lives. Most arrived here with the late-1970s diaspora, escaping the tyranny of the Ayatollah Khomeini only to face harassment by Americans who blamed them for the 444-day hostage crisis. Years later they were caught in the post-9/11 net of suspicion and scrutiny against all Middle Easterners, despite no hint of a connection between Iran and the tragedy. Read more…