US eases internet sanctions on Iran, Cuba and Sudan

9 Mar 2010

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The US treasury department has eased sanctions on Iran, Cuba and Sudan to help further the use of web services and support opposition groups. Opposition supporters in Iran used social networking sites and services to organise protests after the country’s disputed presidential poll last year. The US Treasury said technology firms would be allowed exports of services related to web browsing, blogging, e-mail, instant messaging, chat, social networking and photo- and movie-sharing. The move was intended to “ensure that individuals in these countries can exercise their universal right to free speech and information to the greatest extent possible”, it said. “As recent events in Iran have shown, personal internet-based communications like e-mail, instant messaging and social networking are powerful tools,” Deputy Treasury Secretary Neal Wolin said.
Last year, software giant Microsoft barred users in five countries, including Iran, Cuba and Sudan, from using instant messaging services. People trying to use the service received an error message.
The department has allowed the export of services to all three countries, and the export of communications software only to Iran and Sudan, as the export of software to Cuba is governed by the commerce department. It is not clear whether the governments affected will be able to impose their own restrictions on these services.
Earlier this year, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the US would be supporting the development of new tools to enable citizens to circumvent politically-motivated censorship. Any country which restricted free access to information risked “walling themselves off from the progress of the next century”, she added.
source: BBC News

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