Amid Iran internet shutdown, US steps up to allow tech companies to help Iranians access online information

“It is clear that the Iranian government is afraid of its people,” Blinken said in a statement. “Mahsa Amini has died senselessly, tragically, and now the government is violently suppressing peaceful protesters who are rightfully angry at her loss.”

Blinken said the Treasury Department issued the general license, which authorizes certain transactions that would otherwise be prohibited under sanctions, “to further our efforts and commitment to ensure that the Iranian people can freely access information on the Internet.”

“We are taking this step against a tough backdrop,” he said. “Iran’s government has cut off internet access for most of its 80 million citizens to prevent them and the world from watching its violent crackdown on peaceful protesters.”

“We are helping to ensure that the Iranian people are not isolated and in the dark. This is a concrete step to provide meaningful support to Iranians who demand respect for their fundamental rights,” he said.

According to the Treasury Department, the general license expands the categories of software and services offered, “to include social media platforms, collaboration platforms, video conferencing, as well as cloud-based services,” and provides “additional authorization for services to support communications tools to help ordinary Iranians resist repressive Internet censorship and the Iranian regime’s to surveillance tools introduced, and “removes the requirement to check whether the communication is ‘personal’ in nature.”

It also “continues to authorize anti-virus and anti-malware software; anti-tracking software; mobile operating systems and related software; anti-censorship tools and related software; virtual private network (VPN) client software; and related software.” that “these funds will protect the ability of Iranians to engage in free speech and bravely resist the regime’s oppression,” the Treasury said.

The announcement came a day after the US imposed sanctions on Iran’s morality police, in whose custody Amiri died.