US moves to help Iranians access internet as protesters rally

US moves to help Iranians access internet as protesters rally

A week-long bloody protests have stirred up Iran.

Washington:

The United States announced on Friday it was easing export sanctions to improve Iranians’ access to the Internet, which has been severely curtailed by Tehran’s government crackdown on protesters.

Following the death of a woman in police custody, Iran cut internet services to most of the population, in a bid the United States called “to stop the world from witnessing violent crackdown on peaceful protesters”. .

“In the face of these steps, we are going to help ensure that the Iranian people are not isolated and kept in the dark,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.

“This is a concrete step in providing meaningful support to Iranians while demanding that their basic rights be respected.”

A week-long bloody protests erupted in Iran over the death of Mahsa Amini last week, who was arrested for “improperly” wearing an Islamic headscarf.

The 22-year-old Kurdish woman remained in a coma for three days after being taken into custody.

The US move would allow technology companies to “expand the range of Internet services available to Iranians,” Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Ademo said in a statement.

The revised export license will allow access to software, including anti-virus and malware tools, as well as cloud computing and video conferencing services that support “access to fact-based information for Iranians”, the Treasury said. .

– Starlink Access? ,

Blinken said the latest steps “further our efforts and commitments to ensure that Iranians can freely access information online,” and “to counter the Iranian government’s efforts to survey and censor its citizens.” Help me.”

“It is clear that the Iranian government fears its own people,” Blinken said in a statement.

However, officials acknowledged to reporters that the move may not have an immediate effect because it “does not remove every tool of communication suppression.”

“This will, over time, give the Iranian people more tools to address the Iranian government’s repressive efforts,” a senior State Department official said in a conference call.

Billionaire Elon Musk recently said he would ask the Treasury to allow export licenses to authorize his Starlink satellite internet firm to provide services to Iran, but Friday’s move focused on software rather than hardware. .

Musk, who said on Twitter earlier this week that Starlink was made available on every continent, earlier this year supplied antennas and modems to the Ukrainian military to improve its communications in its war with Russia. Of.

“Starlink will apply for sanctions waiver against Iran,” Musk tweeted.

A bipartisan group of US lawmakers this week sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen urging Iran to ease restrictions on internet services.

The letter called on the department to “clarify regulations on the provision of services to the Iranian people” and “expeditiously expedite any related license requests from companies, including Starlink.”

A senior Treasury official told reporters that hardware is not included in the general export license “so that would be something they would have to write to the Treasury.”

But the Treasury “would welcome Starlink and others to apply,” the official said.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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Indian Lekhak

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