U.S. Moves To Lift 'Electronic Curtain' Dividing U.S., Iranian People
March 20, 2012
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States "seeks a dialogue" with the Iranian people and called on Tehran to stop blocking its citizens' access to information.
The announcement was timed to coincide with the Persian New Year and the release by the U.S. Treasury Department of new details about what services and software can be exported to Iran in support of U.S. policy to encourage the free flow of information among the country's citizens.
In his traditional video address to Iran to mark the Persian New Year, Obama noted the holiday comes at "a time of continued tension" between the two countries, but said, "there is no reason for the United States and Iran to be divided from one another."
He criticized what he described as "an electronic curtain" that Tehran has created to prevent "the free flow of information and ideas into the country."
Despite U.S. sanctions against Iran, Obama said his administration "is issuing new guidelines to make it easier for American businesses to provide software and services into Iran that will make it easier for the Iranian people to use the Internet."
Under the guidelines explained in the U.S. Treasury Department announcement on March 20, explicitly allowed are personal communication software like Yahoo! Messenger, Google Talk, and Skype; personal data storage like Dropbox; browsers like Google Chrome; plug-ins like Flash Player; document readers; RSS feed readers; and free mobile applications related to personal communications.
The Treasury Department said, "It is essential that people have the freedom to seek, receive, and impart information through a variety of mediums, including the Internet."
The Treasury first approved software-related communication products for export in March 2010.
The detailed guidance comes as reports suggest that Iran is making new efforts to tighten control of the Internet.
With AFP and AP reporting
Copyright (c) 2012. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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