Breaking News
0

U.S. should clear way for tech companies to help Iranians: former crown prince

TechnologyJan 03, 2018 06:35PM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This article has already been saved in your Saved Items
 
© Reuters. Reza Pahlavi, the last heir apparent to the defunct throne of the Imperial State of Iran, speaks during an interview with Reuters in Washington

By Yeganeh Torbati

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Trump administration should encourage U.S. technology companies to provide communication services to Iranians as they protest their country's clerical rulers, said Reza Pahlavi, the last heir to the Iranian monarchy.

In an interview with Reuters on Wednesday, Pahlavi also criticized the Trump administration's ban on travel to the United States by most Iranians, calling it "ridiculous".

Anti-government protests have gripped Iran for nearly a week in the most sustained challenge to the Islamic Republic's clerical elite in almost a decade.

Pahlavi has lived in exile for nearly four decades, since his father, the U.S.-backed shah, was overthrown in the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

The opposition to Iran's clerical government is atomized, with no clear recognized leader. But some demonstrators have in recent days chanted slogans in favor of Pahlavi's grandfather, Reza Shah, breaking a longstanding taboo.

Pahlavi said he wants to see Iranians "determine their own fate out of their own free will," and praised U.S. President Donald Trump and members of his cabinet for speaking in support of Iranian protesters.

But he said they also should take steps to ensure that Iranians have access to communication and social media tools, which they have used to share videos and messages documenting protests and clashes with security forces.

Iran, which bars the use of major social media platforms, also has restricted access to the Telegram messaging app, and Iranian users in recent days have reported major hurdles in accessing the internet.

"We need more than lip service. We need to see concrete actions," Pahlavi said. "This has to be immediate ... As we speak, the regime is attempting yet again to try to shut down whatever it is, whether it's Instagram or Telegram."

There is a precedent for this type of U.S. intervention. In 2009, amid mass protests over a disputed election, an Obama administration official asked Twitter executives to delay scheduled maintenance so Iranians could continue to use the service to communicate.

Technology experts have documented numerous examples of commercial services being denied to Iranians, often because of concerns about running afoul of U.S. sanctions.

Activists have urged tech companies to loosen their Iran policies, but say the Trump administration could expand exemptions to make clear that some services are allowed.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a news briefing on Tuesday that the United States wants to see Iranians have access to social media and other tools. But when asked if Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) was "over-interpreting" U.S. sanctions on Iran by blocking access to one of its services there, Nauert said she had "no idea."

Asked if the State Department is urging tech companies to do more to ensure access for Iranians, a State Department spokeswoman did not answer directly but said U.S. support for the free flow of information to Iranians "is a key element of the President's new U.S. strategy for Iran."

EXEMPTIONS TO SANCTIONS

The Obama administration approved exemptions to U.S. sanctions that allowed for providing chat, email, social networking, photo sharing, web browsing, blogging and other personal communication services.

Twitter and messaging service Signal did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) and Google declined to comment.

"The policies of these companies are not really clear," said Amir Rashidi, an internet security researcher at the Center for Human Rights in Iran, a non-governmental organization based in New York.

Pahlavi critiqued the Trump administration's decision to ban nearly all Iranian travelers and immigrants from the United States as part of a broader travel ban targeting several mostly Muslim countries.

"Iranian diplomats still can travel (here) but innocent Iranians who in fact work and have built this country are barred from coming," said Pahlavi, who lives in the United States. "Why? Because they're under the so-called ban. That's ridiculous."

A State Department spokeswoman said U.S. support for the Iranian people "is a fundamentally separate issue" from the travel ban.

U.S. should clear way for tech companies to help Iranians: former crown prince
 

Add a Comment

Comment Guidelines

We encourage you to use comments to engage with users, share your perspective and ask questions of authors and each other. However, in order to maintain the high level of discourse we’ve all come to value and expect, please keep the following criteria in mind: 

  • Enrich the conversation
  • Stay focused and on track. Only post material that’s relevant to the topic being discussed.
  • Be respectful. Even negative opinions can be framed positively and diplomatically.
  •  Use standard writing style. Include punctuation and upper and lower cases.
  • NOTE: Spam and/or promotional messages and links within a comment will be removed
  • Avoid profanity, slander or personal attacks directed at an author or another user.
  • Don’t Monopolize the Conversation. We appreciate passion and conviction, but we also believe strongly in giving everyone a chance to air their thoughts. Therefore, in addition to civil interaction, we expect commenters to offer their opinions succinctly and thoughtfully, but not so repeatedly that others are annoyed or offended. If we receive complaints about individuals who take over a thread or forum, we reserve the right to ban them from the site, without recourse.
  • Only English comments will be allowed.

Perpetrators of spam or abuse will be deleted from the site and prohibited from future registration at Investing.com’s discretion.

Write your thoughts here
 
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
 
Post
Post also to:
 
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
1000
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Thanks for your comment. Please note that all comments are pending until approved by our moderators. It may therefore take some time before it appears on our website.
 
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
 
Post
 
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
1000
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Add Chart to Comment
Confirm Block

Are you sure you want to block %USER_NAME%?

By doing so, you and %USER_NAME% will not be able to see any of each other's Investing.com's posts.

%USER_NAME% was successfully added to your Block List

Since you’ve just unblocked this person, you must wait 48 hours before renewing the block.

Report this comment

I feel that this comment is:

Comment flagged

Thank You!

Your report has been sent to our moderators for review
Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.
Continue with Google
or
Sign up with Email