Update: U.S. lifts Iran, Sudan, Cuba Internet services export ban
IDG News Service -
The U.S. Department of the Treasury has loosened controls on the export of Internet-based communication services to Iran, Sudan and Cuba, in an effort to spread free-speech freedoms to those countries, the agency said Monday.
U.S. companies can now export instant messaging, e-mail and social-networking tools, blogging software, Web browsers and photo and movie sharing software, as long as the software is publicly available at no cost to the user, the Department of Treasury said in a press release.
"Consistent with the [President Barack Obama] administration's deep commitment to the universal rights of all the world's citizens, the issuance of these general licenses will make it easier for individuals in Iran, Sudan and Cuba to use the Internet to communicate with each other and with the outside world," Deputy Treasury Secretary Neal Wolin said in a statement. "Today's actions will enable Iranian, Sudanese and Cuban citizens to exercise their most basic rights."
Instant messaging, e-mail and other Internet communications programs will enable the "free flow of information" in the three countries, he added.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in January that her agency will launch several new initiatives focused on fighting Internet censorship, including working with businesses and other groups to develop mobile applications that help residents of countries with repressive governments report problems.
The Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT), a digital rights group, praised the decision to loosen the export controls.
"It's a really great first step toward making sure that free expression and access to information on the global Internet isn't actually chilled by our own export control policies," said Cynthia Wong, a CDT staff attorney.
However, U.S. lawmakers have expressed recent concerns about U.S. technology being used to block access to the Internet or conduct surveillance on residents of countries such as Iran, Wong noted. The U.S. government should consider stronger export controls on some kinds of Web filtering and surveillance tools, she said.
Berin Szoka, director of the Center for Internet Freedom at free-market think tank the Progress and Freedom Foundation, also praised the change.
"I'm delighted to see that the Treasury Department is implementing Secretary Clinton's pledge to make it easier for citizens of oppressive, undemocratic regimes to use Internet communications tools like e-mail and social networking services offered by U.S. companies," he said. "It has been no small tragedy of mindless bureaucracy that our sanctions on these countries have actually hampered communications and collaboration by dissidents -- without doing anything to punish ruling regimes."
But Szoka said he was "at a loss" to explain why the waiver was limited to no-cost software.
- Capabilities You Need in an IP Address Management Solution A mismanaged IP space can cripple an otherwise healthy network. Take a moment to understand what you need in an enterprise-ready IPAM solution.
- IPv6 Fundamentals IPv6 is needed to sustain the growth of the Internet. The transition from IPv4 will require planning and likely some degree of support...
- Fixing Intermittent Performance Problems Intermittent performance problems are among the most frustrating and time-consuming issues IT administrators face. Read this white paper and learn how technology advances...
- 3G/4G Digital Signage Guide Today, the widespread availability of 3G and 4G cellular or wireless broadband networks enables digital signage to be deployed virtually anywhere.
- Live Webcast 5 Steps to Assuring Quality of Experience In order to align monitoring and management practices with the true demands of the business, IT professionals must expand beyond traditional comfort zones...
- Live Webcast Master the Changing SAP Landscape with Performance Management SAP landscapes are not getting simpler. Gradually, business processes that used to be contained on a single SAP system now involve a range...
- Navigating the New Wireless Landscape Thriving in the new wireless landscape View Now>>
- Deep Dive into Advanced Networking and Security with Hybrid Cloud Security and networking are among the top concerns when moving workloads to the cloud. VMware vCloud® Hybrid Service™ enables you to extend your... All Networking White Papers | Webcasts
Our new bimonthly Internet of Things newsletter helps you keep pace with the rapidly evolving technologies, trends and developments related to the IoT. Subscribe now and stay up to date!