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US Lawmakers Ask Tech Firms To Help Iranians With Internet

Friday, 10/28/2022

A bipartisan and bicameral group of US lawmakers have urged Google, Amazon, Meta and other tech companies to facilitate access to online tools for Iranian protesters.

The move, led by Representative Tom Malinowski (D-NJ), was made on Thursday after the US Treasury Department relaxed tech restrictions for Iran last month. The letter for the call was signed by at least 10 lawmakers, including Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Representative Claudia Tenney (R-NY).

The letter, which was sent to heads of Google, Amazon, Apple, Meta, Microsoft and Digital Ocean, calls on the companies to "provide expeditiously and lawfully the tools Iranians need to circumvent government blockages." “As the Iranian regime continues to brutally repress those protesting for freedom, access to communications services is key,” read the letter.

All the companies work on technologies that include cloud and hosting services, messaging platforms and tools, developer and analytics tools, and access to app stores.

Frustrated with tech companies' lack of action to support the Iranians, Malinowski told Axios that “The ball is really in their court now to deploy technologies that the US government is permitting to ensure Iranians can actually communicate safely and securely.” He added, “Iranians are risking their lives, and these big companies seem to be unwilling to risk anything, and that's just wrong."

Internet restrictions and the use of anti-online censorship tools have surged in Iran since protests began in September. Iranian hardliners say restrictions will remain in place as long as street protests continue.

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