NIAC Petitions U.S. Treasury for General License Update to Support Iranians’ Access to Internet

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, November 20, 2019
CONTACT: Mana Mostatabi | 202.386.6325 x103 | mmostatabi@niacouncil.org 

Washington DC – As the Iranian government implements a near total shutdown of the internet in the midst of a crackdown against widespread protests, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) called on the U.S. Treasury Department to take necessary steps to ensure U.S. sanctions are not contributing to the Iranian government’s ability to disconnect Iranians. Iranian Americans have been unable to communicate with family members during the shutdown and the isolation of Iran due to certain sanctions has unfortunately contributed to the Iranian government’s ability to separate its population from the rest of the world. 

NIAC President Jamal Abdi issued the following statement further explaining the rule range request: 

“NIAC is petitioning the Treasury Department for a formal rule change request to expand General License D-1, which has not been updated in more than five years. Over the past several months, Apple, Amazon, Google and many other tech companies have begun blocking Iranians from accessing key software and services as a result of limitations and ambiguities in General License D-1 and escalating U.S. sanctions on Iran. 

“This has forced Iranian developers to rely on Iran’s state-operated internal Internet, which has aided the Iranian government in building this infrastructure and reduced the costs of cutting off outside connections. This also undermines Iranian developers’ ability to work with the global developer community and makes it far more difficult for ordinary Iranians to access and operate virtual private networks and other important communication tools that allow them to communicate freely in spite of government censorship.

“Unfortunately, while General License D-1 was a welcome step to reduce the consequences of sanctions on Internet communications when it was first implemented in 2014, it is in need of clarification and expansion. As indicated by tech companies blocking Iranians from accessing their services, the exemptions contained in General License D-1 have not kept up with the pace of technology or the increasingly complex sanctions regime.

“NIAC strongly supported General License D-1 and has advocated in support of measures to prevent censorship technology from being acquired by Iran’s government and to ensure Iranians have access to communication technology. The formal rule change request is included below, and we look forward to working for its timely adoption.”

UM Amherst

NIAC Applauds UMass Policy Reversal

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jamal Abdi 
Phone: 202-386-6408
Email: jabdi@niacouncil.org

Washington, DC – The National Iranian American Council (NIAC) welcomes the University of Massachusetts at Amherst’s decision today to reverse its policy to ban Iranian students from certain fields and looks forward to learning more about its new approach. NIAC President Trita Parsi released the following statement:

“Sanctions have caused many problems, but they are not an excuse to discriminate against Iranian students. UMass has done the right thing to correct its mistake and we look forward to learning full details about how its new policy will ensure Iranian students are not discriminated against.

“We sympathize with the burdens that the sanctions have imposed on academic institutions and hope that eventually these measures are lifted.  Broad sanctions have punished many unintended victims but today’s action ensures that further pain will not be passed onto young Iranians who aspire to study in American universities.

“NIAC congratulates the UMass students and faculty who successfully raised objections to this policy and appreciates the efforts of the State Department and Treasury Department for working with the school directly to address this issue.

“NIAC has worked to resolve the impact of sanctions on Iranian students many times in the past, including when TOEFL tests were suspended for Iranians, online courses were restricted for people inside Iran, and in the effort to secure multiple-entry student visa privileges for Iranians. We are pleased to have played a role in ensuring this latest problem was addressed.

“Ultimately, these issues will not go away until broad sanctions are lifted. We hope that diplomacy between the U.S. and Iran can succeed in eventually achieving this. In the meantime, we will continue to work to prevent sanctions from punishing ordinary Iranians and Iranian Americans.”

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