U.S. Gives Online Services to Cuba, Sudan, and Iran
Matt | On 09, Mar 2010
I thought this was a pretty interesting development from the U.S. Treasury Department.
Sanctions have been relaxed on Cuba, Sudan, and Iran, specifically related to online services – web browsing, blogging, chat, instant messaging, email, photo/video-sharing, and social networking. Software will be exported to Sudan and Iran only because the U.S. Commerce Department has authority over shipments to Cuba.
This all feeds into a bigger role the U.S. is trying to play in its foreign policy. The U.S. supports a free and open Internet, so by allowing these services in oppressive regimes, hopefully citizens and opposition groups will be empowered to mobilize and affect change.
For instance, leading up to the February 11 anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, we reported that Iran slowed or shut down its Internet and text messaging services to stem any protests. With the new sanctions lifted, it gives citizens more options to communicate – that is if the governments don’t shut them down as well. I wouldn’t be surprised if they do, but hey, it’s a start.
The sad thing is that in a country like Cuba, Internet usage is so low that importing the new services won’t do much good initially. Many people living there are still driving cars (literally) from the 1950’s. It’s all about the baby steps.
Prune Juice Media supports any and all forms of open and unlimited communication! So, it will be interesting to see exactly what the citizens are able to do with this technology – specifically in Iran.