US lifts web sanctions on Iran
The US will allow software companies to offer web browsing, instant messaging and other communication tools to Iran, Cuba and Sudan, as it looks to promote freedom of speech within the countries.
Though sanctions will remain in place, companies such as Google, Microsoft and Yahoo will be given waivers to export free, mass-market software including blogging tools, email, instant messaging, social networking, and photo and movie sharing.
“Today’s actions will enable Iranian, Sudanese and Cuban citizens to exercise their most basic rights,” said Deputy Treasury Secretary Neil Wolin.
We’re going to continue to support those Iranians who wish to circumvent and be able to communicate without being blocked by their own government
The waivers follow Iran’s disputed elections last year, in which thousands of people voiced their displeasure with the regime using Twitter and posting videos on YouTube.
“In the 21st century, expression and assembly are carried out on the internet as well as in person,” said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. “So we’re going to continue to support those Iranians who wish to circumvent and be able to communicate without being blocked by their own government.”
Sheldon Himelfarb, an expert on technology at the US Institute of Peace, said he supports the move and that it was a long time coming. “It doesn’t mean that those governments can’t censor, control, or influence what is said on the internet domestically,” he said.
“At least the general population will have access to the best communication and collaboration tools possible – which are still by and large developed here in the US,” he said.
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