Amid Iran’s internet shutdown, US takes steps to help tech companies access online information for Iranians

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

Blinken said the Treasury Department has issued a general license, which allows 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 online.”

“We are taking this step in front of a difficult scenario,” he said. “The Iranian government has cut off Internet access to most of its 80 million citizens to prevent them — and the world — from seeing the violent attack on peaceful protests.”

“We will help the people of Iran not to be isolated and kept in the dark. This is a concrete step to provide meaningful support to Iranians who demand that their basic rights be respected,” he said.

According to the Treasury Department, the general license expands the categories of software and services that can be granted “to include social networking platforms, collaboration platforms, video conferencing, and cloud-based services,” and “provides additional authorization for services. supports communication tools to help combat the tools” and “eliminates the requirement to certify that communications are of a ‘personal’ nature.”

It also “continues to allow 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,” he noted. “These tools protect the ability of Iranians to engage in free expression and bravely resist the regime’s oppression,” Treasury said.

The announcement comes a day after the US imposed sanctions on Iran’s Morality Police, in whose custody Amiri died.