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[liberationtech] NEWS: U.S. unleashes weapons of mass distraction on Iran, Cuba, Sudan

Yosem Companys ycompanys at
Mon Mar 8 09:31:18 PST 2010

*U.S. unleashes weapons of mass distraction on Iran, Cuba, Sudan
By JOHN MURRELL, San Jose Mercury News

The U.S. government knows that oftentimes the real victims of international
economic sanctions are the helpless masses living under the thumb of the
targeted governments, and it is not without some degree of compassion. So
when the folks at the State Department realized last year that current
sanctions were depriving the people of Iran, Cuba and Sudan of all the fun
of instant messaging, chatting and sharing photos, they were moved to
recommend an exception. As a result, reports the New York
the Treasury Department will issue a general license today allowing the
export of free personal Internet services and software to the three
countries, clearing the way for Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and others to make
their play. Of course if some of the less satisfied citizens of those
nations just happen to take advantage of these communication channels to,
say, exchange outside news, document dissent or otherwise subvert the powers
that be, well, that would be just fine with State. "The more people have
access to a range of Internet technology and services, the harder it's going
to be for the Iranian government to clamp down on their speech and free
expression," a senior administration official told the Times. "We want to
make sure the information flows. It will obviously have political
implications in a range of ways."

In a January speech<>,
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared Internet freedom to be a core
principle of U.S. foreign policy, and in that, it seems, the administration
is in tune with much of the world's population. According to a new BBC World
Service survey<>of
almost 28,000 people across 26 countries — half Internet users, half not —
four out of five said Internet access should be considered a "fundamental
right of all people."<>
to the survey, "Most Web users are very positive about the changes the
Internet has brought to their lives, with strong support for the information
available, the greater freedom it brings and social networking. However
there was caution about expressing opinions online and fraud." Even among
non-users, 71 percent believed Net access should be available to all.
Opinion on whether governments should be involved in regulating the Net was
more divided. Slightly more than half the Net users surveyed felt
governments should keep their hands off, including large majorities in South
Korea, Nigeria and Mexico. However, in China, Australia, and several
European countries, majorities were open to at least some regulation.
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