October 7, 2022

US expands internet service in Iran after protests

Washington, (EFE).- The United States on Friday authorized tech companies to expand their services in Iran in response to internet cuts ordered by Tehran to end protests against violence against women and the mandatory veil.

“With this measure, we will help the Iranian people not to be in isolation. It is a step to meaningfully support Iranians who demand that their fundamental rights are respected,” Foreign Minister Antony Blinken said in a statement.

United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the United Nations Security Council, in New York (NY, US). EFE/Justin Lane

In particular, the US Treasury Department, which maintains tough sanctions against Iran, has issued a blanket license that will allow “tech companies to provide more digital services to Iranians, from access to the cloud to tools for their security and online privacy.”

Blinken: Iran is afraid of its people

The leader of US diplomacy stressed that Iranian authorities have cut off internet access to most of its 80 million citizens to “prevent them and the world from seeing their violent suppression of peaceful demonstrations”.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (c) and US Special Envoy for Climate John Kerry (d) at the 77th United Nations Assembly in New York (NY, US). EFE/Jason Szenes

“It is clear that the Iranian government is afraid of its own people,” said Blinken, who assured Friday’s general permit “will increase the free flow of information in the country”.

In a subsequent conference call, a senior US government official explained that extending services to the cloud will facilitate access to VPN networks, bypassing censorship and blocking on the Internet.

Restrictions on communication services between people will also be lifted, something tech companies had requested from US authorities.

Iranian anger over the death of Masha Amini

The protests started last Friday after learning of the death of Masha Amini, 22, after she was arrested by the moral police for wearing the veil incorrectly, and have spread across the country.

Detail of a woman’s hand holding a drawing by Mahsa Amini and a sign that reads “We don’t want an Islamic republic: Iranian women want freedom,” during a rally in Berlin, Germany. EFE/Clemens Bilan

IRIB state television reported the deaths of 26 people in clashes with authorities.

The government has severely restricted the internet, with mobile networks shutting down from 9 p.m. until morning for the past two days.

The United States on Thursday sanctioned the moral police for the death of the young woman and seven senior security officials for cracking down on the demonstrations.

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