The U.S. Department of Treasury said it is carving out exceptions within its stifling sanctions on Iran for technology companies providing internet access during recent protests.
The sanctions issued by the U.S. government against Iran make it difficult for U.S. businesses to operate in the country.
But in light of the Iranian government’s decision to shut off parts of its network and access to certain platforms, the Treasury Department issued a new license allowing technology companies to offer the Iranian people “with more options of secure, outside platforms and services.”
Protests in the country erupted this week over the killing of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old who died while in police custody after being arrested for violations of the country’s headscarf rules. In response to the protests, Iran shut off access to mobile networks at various points over the past week.
The government eventually blocked Instagram — one of the only U.S. social media platforms available in Iran and a lightning rod for the protests. After the block on Instagram, WhatsApp was blocked as well, limiting the ability of Iranians to communicate with the outside world.
Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Wally Adeyemo said on Friday that the U.S. is expanding the Iran General License D-2 as a way to help the people participating in protests over Amini’s death.
“With these changes, we are helping the Iranian people be better equipped to counter the government’s efforts to surveil and censor them,” Adeyemo said. “In the coming weeks, OFAC will continue issuing