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US relaxes internet sanctions on Iran in support of protesters | Women’s Rights News

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The US Treasury is expanding waivers from sanctions against Iran to include social media platforms, video conferencing, and cloud services.

Washington DC – The Biden administration issued a license to ease sanctions on Iran’s internet services, saying the move was aimed at “supporting the free flow of information” for Iranians amid widespread anti-government protests.

On Friday, the US Treasury said the decision was in response to Iranian authorities stifling internet access in the country to disrupt demonstrations and “prevent the world from watching their violent crackdown on peaceful protesters.”

“With these changes, we are helping the Iranian people to be better prepared to counter the government’s efforts to monitor and censor them,” Deputy Treasury Secretary Wali Ademo said in a statement.

Ongoing unrest in Iran erupted after Mahsa Amini’s death after she was arrested in the capital, Tehran, for “inappropriate clothing” last week.

Iranian police have denied Amini was beaten in custody, but her case galvanized demonstrations across the country, sparking a global outcry against Tehran.

Earlier this week, internet monitoring company NetBlocks documented a “near-total outage” of internet service in western Iran and partly in the capital, as well as restrictions on social media and communication platforms Instagram and WhatsApp.

“As brave Iranians take to the streets to protest the killing of Mahsa Amini, the United States is redoubling its support for the free flow of information to the Iranian people,” Adeemo said Friday.

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The US license expands sanctions waivers to include social media platforms, video conferencing and cloud services, as well as “anti-censorship tools and related software.”

Since former US President Donald Trump canceled the Iran nuclear deal in 2015, various sectors of the Iranian economy have been subjected to severe US sanctions.

President Joe Biden is seeking to return to the agreement, which saw Iran reduce its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of sanctions imposed on its economy, but diplomatic efforts to revive the agreement have faltered.

In recent days, Biden and his top aides have expressed their support for the Iranian protesters.

“Today, we stand with the brave citizens and brave women of Iran who are now demonstrating to secure their basic rights,” Biden told the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday.

Earlier this week, the US administration also imposed new sanctions on Iran’s “moral police” over the killing of Amini and the subsequent crackdown on protests.

On Friday, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken welcomed the updated Treasury Department’s license, accusing Iran of “violently suppressing peaceful protesters” angry over Amini’s death.

In the face of these steps, we will help ensure that the Iranian people are not isolated and in the dark. “This is a concrete step to provide real support to Iranians who demand respect for their basic rights,” Blinken said in a statement.

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