US in talks with tech companies to support internet freedom in Iran
The United States and tech companies are in talks to find ways to counter online restrictions in Iran to support the free flow of factual information to the Iranian people, according to a senior State Department official.
“Iran’s continued violent crackdown on peaceful protesters is an affront to human rights,” US Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman tweeted on Wednesday.
“I have spoken with major US technology companies and urged them to use the D-2 blanket license to provide the Iranian people with additional communications tools and services.”
The license is issued by the US Treasury and allows the sale and distribution of personal communication tools such as cell phones, personal computing tools, and other related software and hardware to Iran without violating US sanctions.
This updated license ― the previous one is known as the D-1 General License ― will provide additional authorization for services that support communication tools to help ordinary Iranians.
The goal is to help Iranian protesters “resist the repressive internet censorship and surveillance tools deployed by the Iranian regime”, the Treasury said.
Technical support will include social media platforms, video conferencing as well as cloud-based services in support of these services, and tools that integrate communication functions such as online maps, online games, online learning platforms and machine translation, he said.
Iran’s continued violent crackdown on peaceful protesters is an affront to human rights. I have spoken with major US technology companies and urged them to use the D-2 blanket license to provide the Iranian people with additional communications services and tools. https://t.co/jPuH5OBT52
— Wendy R. Sherman (@DeputySecState) October 13, 2022
Iranian human rights defenders and cyber activists say the Iranian government is relentlessly tightening internet restrictions and mobile broadband connections for censorship purposes and to make it harder for protesters at home to report to the world. continued repression by government forces.
A group of 39 rights organizations called on Iran to restore internet access and on the International Telecommunication Union, of which Iran is a state party, to condemn Iran’s communications shutdown.
Internet rights NGO Access Now backed the US sanctions changes.
“Now the onus is on American businesses – the tech sector, as well as financial institutions and other transaction processors – to comply, not over-comply,” Access Now’s general counsel said. , Peter Micek. people with the goods and services they need to stay safe and active in the defense of human rights.
The Norway-based Iranian Human Rights Group (IHR) on Wednesday updated the nationwide death toll from anti-regime protests to 201.
Iran repeatedly says, without providing evidence, that the protests are fueled by foreign powers and enemies.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Wednesday again accused Iran’s enemies of stoking “street riots”.
“The actions of the enemy, such as propaganda, attempting to influence minds, creating excitement, encouraging and even teaching the making of incendiary devices are now perfectly clear,” a- he said in statements carried by state media.
The protests were sparked in mid-September by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while in the custody of vice police.
She had been detained by the vice squad for failing to adhere to the country’s strict Islamic dress code.
Asked at a press briefing on Wednesday whether the US was interested in continuing talks to revive the nuclear deal with Iran, US State Department spokesman Ned Price said “That’s not our goal at the moment.”
No more sanctions against Iran
The main slogans of the protests are “Woman, Life, Freedom” and “Death to the dictator”.
Protests have reportedly spread in recent days to shops, at least two key oil facilities and the two symbolic cities of Qom and Mashad, according to social media posts.
Qom and Mashad are the seats of religious learning for the high clerics of the Islamic republic and bastions of the regime.
Protests have spread to some schools and universities, with young women marching without headscarves and cutting their hair in solidarity with Amini.
On Wednesday, shots were fired as Iranian security forces clashed with protesters in the central city of Asfhan, according to IHR.
Activists say the protests are not just about compulsory hijab but against the whole strict ideology of the Iranian regime, in power since 1979.
Brave Iranian women are demanding freedom and equality – values Europe believes in and must uphold.
The violence must stop. Women must be able to choose.
This shocking violence cannot go unanswered.
It is time to punish those responsible for this repression. pic.twitter.com/o4nKEjkpNT
— Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) October 12, 2022
Meanwhile, the European Union on Wednesday agreed to impose new sanctions on Iran over the crackdown on protests.
The bloc’s executive branch is proposing a set of sanctions against at least 15 Iranian individuals and entities linked to Amini’s death.
“We must hold accountable those responsible for repressing women,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in an address to EU ambassadors.
“I believe it is now time to punish those responsible. The shocking violence inflicted on the Iranian people cannot go unanswered. »
The new sanctions could be formally adopted as early as next week.
Updated: October 13, 2022, 9:32 a.m.