US to help Iran access information online

US to help Iran access information online

Amid Internet shutdowns by the Iranian government in response to widespread protests, the US government has taken a step meant to allow technology firms to help the people of Iran access information online, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced Friday.

Blinken said that the Iranian government is afraid of its own people. Mahsa Amini is senselessly dead, and now the government is violently suppressing peaceful protesters angry about her loss. The Treasury Department has issued a general license which allows certain transactions that would otherwise be prohibited under sanctions to advance our efforts to ensure that the Iranian people can freely access information online, according to Blinken. He said that we are taking this step against a stark backdrop. The Iranian government has cut access to the Internet for most of its 80 million citizens to prevent the world from watching its crackdown on peaceful protestors. W e are going to help make sure that the Iranian people are not kept in the dark. He said that this is a concrete step to provide meaningful support to Iranians who demand their basic rights be respected.

The license expands the categories of software and services that can include social media platforms, collaboration platforms, video conferencing, as well as cloud-based services, and gives additional authorization for services that support the communication tools to help ordinary Iranians resist the repressive internet censorship and surveillance tools deployed by the Iranian regime, and removes the requirement to verify communications are personal in nature. It also grants permissions for anti-viruses and anti-malware software, anti-tracking software, mobile operating systems and related software, anti-censorship tools and related software, Virtual Private Network VPN client software, and related software, as well as other software, noting that these tools protect Iranians' ability to engage in free expression and bravely resist regime oppression, the Treasury said.

The announcement came a day after the US imposed sanctions on Iran's Morality Police, in whose custody Amiri died.