SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has said that his company will ask for an exemption from US sanctions on Iran to provide the firm's Starlink satellite broadband Internet access for Iranians.
Musk made the announcement in a tweet on Monday as Iran is engulfed in widespread protests over the death of a young woman in the custody of hijab enforcement patrols.
Some people on Twitter had asked Musk to provide the satellite-based internet stations as he did for the people of Ukraine after the Russian invasion. However, most Ukrainians have not been able to access the internet via Starlink because it needs special equipment and is somehow too complicated to set up.
Since protests over the death of Mahsa Amini started in several cities across Iran, including in the capital Tehran, internet connection was significantly slowed down, a strategy the government usually uses during protests in Iran.
Authorities disrupt the Internet to prevent news of unrest reaching the rest of the country and abroad, and to prevent protesters from galvanizing support in nearby regions.
Operated by Elon Musk’s company SpaceX, Starlink provides internet access coverage to most of the Earth.
In May, following the shutdown of internet connection after popular protests over bread prices in southwestern Iran, Victoria Coates, who served as senior advisor to the energy secretary in the Trump administration, called on Musk to activate Starlink satellite access for Iranians.
Iran’s former communication minister Mohammad-Javad Azari-Jahromi had warned Iran’s parliament against plans to restrict Internet access, saying that “if you do not provide people with the right service, others will”.