US announces tech license to help Iranian people counter government

'It is clear that the Iranian government is afraid of its own people,' says Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

US announces tech license to help Iranian people counter government

The US announced a new general license meant to ease export controls on Friday in what it said is a calculated move to help the Iranian people counter their government's "efforts to surveil and censor its citizens."

The announcement comes amid ongoing widespread internet disruptions in Iran as people protest the death of Mahsa Amini, who died while in police custody after being arrested for not wearing her hijab in-line with government mandates.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the new measures are being aimed at ensuring "the Iranian people are not kept isolated and in the dark" amid the mass demonstrations.

Technology companies will now be allowed "to provide more digital services to people in Iran," including access to cloud computing services and "better tools to enhance their online security and privacy," according to the State Department.

"We are taking this step against a stark backdrop. The Iranian government has cut off access to the Internet for most of its 80 million citizens to prevent them — and the world — from watching its violent crackdown on peaceful protestors," Blinken said in a statement.

"It is clear that the Iranian government is afraid of its own people. Mahsa Amini is senselessly, tragically dead, and now the government is violently suppressing peaceful protesters rightly angry about her loss," he added.

Protests erupted last week after the death of Amini, 22, who was arrested by the country's morality police in Tehran for alleged violations of the Islamic dress code.

Police deny mistreating Amini, saying she died of a heart attack, but her family and demonstrators have sharply rebutted the suggestion. Her family has maintained she had no pre-existing conditions, and her father said he was not permitted to view her body until it was wrapped for burial.

Only her face and feet were visible, and the elder Amini said during an interview with BBC Persian that he noticed bruising on her feet.

At least 26 people have died in the ongoing demonstrations, according to Iranian state media.

Hüseyin Demir

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