The United States is pleased to support the Freedom Online Coalition’s consensus Joint Statement on Internet Shutdowns in Iran. Freedom Online Coalition, or FOC, members are countries committed to protecting and promoting online freedoms domestically and abroad. Since its founding Conference, the FOC has grown from 15 members in 2011 to 34 today.
In its statement, the members of the FOC, “strongly condemn the measures undertaken by Iran to restrict access to the Internet following the nationwide protests over the tragic killing of Mahsa Amini.” Continuing its longstanding pattern of censorship, the Iranian government has to a large extent shut down the Internet yet again for most of its 80-plus million citizens nationwide by cutting off mobile data; disrupting popular social media platforms; and throttling Internet service; and blocking text messages and other services.
Millions of Iranians rely on these tools and others to connect with each other and to the outside world. By blocking, filtering, or shutting down these services, the Iranian government is suppressing the right of peaceful assembly and the freedoms of association and expression. These actions erode civic space, reinforce economic uncertainty, and disrupt access to healthcare, emergency services, and financial services. Lack of internet also prevents payment of salaries, utilities, and education. Journalists, human rights defenders, and others are limited in their ability to report on and document human rights violations or abuses that are taking place during Internet shutdowns.
FOC “emphatically call(s) on the Government of Iran to immediately lift restrictions intended to disrupt or prevent their citizens from accessing and disseminating information online and from communicating safely and securely. Moving forward, we also call on Iranian authorities to refrain from imposing partial or complete Internet shutdowns and blocking or filtering of services and to respect Iran’s international human rights obligations.”
In an effort to promote Internet freedom in Iran, the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control has issued General License D-2 - an expanded authorization that will allow technology firms to provide more digital services to people in Iran, from access to cloud computing services to better tools to enhance their online security and privacy.
The United States along with its fellow members of the Freedom Online Coalition stand in solidarity with the Iranian people in their call to exercise their rights to freedoms of opinion and expression, both online and offline.