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Some in Congress Get Smart on Iran February 21, 2010

Posted by tkcollier in Geopolitics.
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Beyond smarter sanctions, though, the US needs to start exercising smart power in Iran. This means identifying areas in which our current policies are counterproductive — and getting out of our own way. For example, the world recognized what a crucial role social media services like Twitter and Facebook played in the events in Iran this summer, yet current US sanctions actually prohibit Americans from providing Internet communications software to the Iranian people. Microsoft and Google have both shut down instant messenger services because their programs are enabled by a download not authorized for export to Iran under US law. The same can be said for anti-surveillance software that allows Iranian users to surf the web free of government spying.

Just this summer, the Senate authorized $20 million for the development of software and other programs that allow users in Iran to bypass government censorship and monitoring efforts. But current laws still prohibit an American from sending these programs to Iran!

Did you know that after one of Iran’s most terrible natural disasters — the 2003 earthquake in Bam that killed over 25,000 people — the Iranian government sought advice from American engineers to reinforce thousands of primary schools around the country to make them more earthquake-proof? Sadly, that type of assistance was deemed “dual-use” under US sanctions, and the Americans were barred from making the trip. –Patrick Disney – Assistant Policy Director at the National Iranian American Council

via Patrick Disney: Some in Congress Get Smart on Iran.

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