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Obama gives Iranians tools to get around Internet blocks

updated 04:35 pm EDT, Tue March 20, 2012

US Government launches virtual embassy in Iran

In an address to Iranians during the Nowruz holiday, President Obama has announced that the US government has set up a "Virtual Embassy," where Iranians can access information that the regime is blocking. Such an Electronic Curtain is seen as a block and the embassy was launched despite objections from the Iranian government. A White House blog post reveals the embassy will grant access to world news and facts on the US policy and culture.

At the same time, the US Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) will begin making software and services for Iranians that will allow them to effectively use the Internet, and side-step the government-issued blocks. This includes web browsing, blogging, e-mailing, instant messaging, chatting, social networking, and media sharing.

The OFAC approved plugins, RSS feed readers, document readers, browsers, updates, free mobile apps, and personal data storage nearly two years ago.

The Iranian government is said to monitor and filter web content, including restricting access to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other social network sites. Internet speeds have also been slowed in order to discourage planning protests and other times of public unrest. It has sometimes been known to suspend access to the Internet altogether as well as jam broadcasts of foreign journalists, intimidate them, and outlaw foreign information.

by MacNN Staff



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