US lets companies expand internet services in Iran during power outages


The US Treasury Department issued a license on Friday authorizing US companies to provide additional internet services in Iran without risking sanctions.

Biden administration officials said the updated sanctions guidelines will help Iranians overcome internet restrictions and government oversight through modern communication tools, including video conferencing, e-gaming, social media platforms and cloud-based services that enable virtual private networks (VPNs). ) to deliver.

“The expanded authorization will allow US companies to provide tools to ordinary Iranians and assist in their efforts to resist repressive internet censorship and surveillance tools deployed by the Iranian government,” said an official briefing reporter from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Finance.

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Protests erupted over the weekend after the death last Friday of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman detained three days earlier by Iran’s vice squad for allegedly wearing a hijab inappropriately.

Women in dozens of cities across Iran risk arrest by burning their hijabs and cutting their hair in a show of defiance. Iranian state television reported that at least 26 people were killed in the protests, including members of Basij’s police and paramilitary forces.

Nearly all internet data on mobile phones was disconnected on Thursday and broadband at home was severely disrupted in most of the main protest towns. Before Friday, the internet surveillance group NetBlocks said Iran was experiencing its strictest internet restrictions since the November 2019 protests.

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Harsh Iranian news agency Tasnim said the internet outages were intended to prevent “communication and coordination between leaders of the riot”.

“It is clear that the Iranian government is afraid of its own people,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement on Friday. “Mahsa Amini is senseless, tragically dead, and now the government is forcibly repressing peaceful protesters who are justifiably angry at her loss.”

“In light of these steps, we are going to ensure that the Iranian people are not isolated and kept in limbo,” Blinken said.

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Shortly after the US announcement, Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted Friday that he was activating “Starlink,” his satellite internet company.

Earlier on Friday, the Treasury official told reporters that Starlink would not be under the new general license and that the company would have to write to the department for permission to operate in Iran.

The new guidelines from the Treasury Department come a day after the United States imposed sanctions against Iran’s vice squad and seven senior leaders of Iran’s security organizations.


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