Top WorldUS eases internet access for Iranians amid protests

US eases internet access for Iranians amid protests

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The US government announced on September 23 that it is easing export restrictions on Iran to expand access to internet services that have been severely restricted by the government amid protests over the death of a girl after being arrested by morality police.

The finance ministry said in a statement that it seeks to boost support for internet freedom in Iran by renewing the license after the government severely restricted internet access on September 21 following days of unrest.

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“While the government of Iran is cutting off its citizens’ access to the global Internet, the United States is taking steps to support the free flow of information and access to fact-based information for the people of Iran,” the statement said.

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The Deputy Minister of Finance, Wally Adeyemo, stressed that the decision is related to the protests in Iran due to the death of Mahsa Amini.

“With these changes, we are helping the Iranian people to be better prepared to resist the government’s efforts to monitor and censor them,” he commented.

Adeyemo said Washington would continue to issue directives on the matter in the coming weeks.

A US Treasury official said on condition of anonymity that the new license covers social media platforms and video conferencing and expands access to cloud services used to provide access to virtual private networks (VPNs), which provide users online anonymity and other anti-tracking tools.

Asked how the expanded permission would help Iranians if their government shuts down Internet access again, a State Department official acknowledged during the briefing that the Iranian government would still have “tools to restrict communications.”

“I think that general license, the licensing policy that I described (senior official of the Ministry of Finance – ed.)it makes it much easier for the Iranian people to resist some of these repressive tools,” he added.

London-based internet freedom watchdog group Netblocks said on September 21 that Iran is now facing the most severe internet restrictions since violent protests in November 2019 over a sudden petrol price hike.

Protests in Iran as 22-year-old Mahsa Amini died in hospital after being detained by morality police for violating Iran’s strict dress code.

The Iranian government says Amini died of a heart attack, but her family denies this, saying she was beaten during detention. Several people were killed during street clashes.

source: radio svoboda

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