Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

Washington Takes Measures to Ease Iranians Access to Internet

Washington Takes Measures to Ease Iranians Access to Internet

Saturday, 24 September, 2022 - 06:15
Protesters storm the streets over the death of Mahsa Amini, in Tehran, Iran. (Reuters)

The United States Treasury Department issued guidance expanding the range of internet services available to Iranians despite US sanctions on the country.

The US took action to support the free flow of information and access to fact-based information to the Iranian people after the Iranian government cut off access to the Internet for most of its 80 million citizens on Wednesday.

The updated guidance will authorize technology companies to offer the Iranian people more options of secure, outside platforms and services.

The step came after a bipartisan group of US lawmakers called on Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to give Elon Musk’s satellite Internet service Starlink clearance to operate in Iran, amid protests around the country following the death of a 22-year-old woman in custody.

Musk recently stated that SpaceX would seek a license to provide its satellite based Starlink Internet service to Iran.

“We need to do our part to ensure that Iranians remain connected to the outside world,” read a letter by 21 lawmakers to the Treasury Department.

“As courageous Iranians take to the streets to protest the death of Mahsa Amini, the United States is redoubling its support for the free flow of information to the Iranian people,” said Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Wally Adeyemo.

“With these changes, we are helping the Iranian people be better equipped to counter the government’s efforts to surveil and censor them,” Adeyemo noted, adding that Washington will continue issuing guidance to support the Administration’s commitment to promoting the free flow of information in the coming weeks.

Internet monitoring group NetBlocks on Thursday said a new mobile internet disruption has been registered in Iran, where access to social media and some content is tightly restricted.

NetBlocks reported “near-total” disruption to internet connectivity in the capital of the Kurdish region on Monday, linking it to the protests.

Social media websites such as TikTok, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook are routinely blocked in parts of Iran, which has some of the strictest internet controls in the world. But tech-savvy residents bypass curbs using virtual private networks (VPNs).

Editor Picks