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US Eases Internet Export Rules To Iran, Sudan, Cuba 98

Posted by Soulskill
from the wising-up dept.
coondoggie writes "Looking to facilitate what it calls free speech rights in countries that don't look favorably at such liberties, the US government today said it would ease the regulations around exporting Internet-based applications to Iran, Sudan and Cuba. Specifically, the Treasury Department said it would add general licenses (PDF) authorizing the exportation of free, personal, Internet-based communications services – such as instant messaging, chat and email, and social networking – to those three countries. The amendments also allow the exportation of related software to Iran and Sudan, the department said in a release (the US Commerce Department controls software exports with Cuba). Until now all such exports would have broken federal laws."
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US Eases Internet Export Rules To Iran, Sudan, Cuba

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  • privacy? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tivoKlr (659818) on Monday March 08, 2010 @03:26PM (#31404788) Journal
    Sounds like a good way to gather intel on the people using this technology in these "friendly" countries.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      Sounds like a good way to gather intel on the people using this technology in these "friendly" countries.

      Yeah, like ours.

    • by ndogg (158021)

      Hmm, yes, privacy for people that don't have any within the borders of their own government. While I don't trust our government that much, I trust it more than Iran, Sudan, or Cuba, and I think that if we know more about what it happening within their borders we might possibly be able to help them out in the future.

  • by srussia (884021) on Monday March 08, 2010 @03:29PM (#31404802)
    You need a license to export ?

    Better add "free-speech zones" to that list.
    • I would imagine that licensed export is better than banning export entirely although it is still ridiculous to restrict trade in any case as the software in question isn't classified.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by amicusNYCL (1538833)

      You need a license to export ?

      Do you think that's strange, or that every other country doesn't have similar laws? If you have a company who manufactures things like weapons, aeronautics, or communications equipment do you want them selling that to national enemies?

      • If you have a company who manufactures things like...communications equipment do you want them selling that to national enemies?

        National enemies like Iran [topnews.us] and China, [eff.org] right? Suddenly, the loosening of restrictions seems a bit more disingenuous.

        • National enemies like Iran [topnews.us] and China, [eff.org] right?

          Exactly right, I'm sure the US would have appreciated if Finnish Nokia and German Siemens had not sold communications equipment to Iran. In this case, in specifically allowing communications software to go to those countries, it sounds like the US is trying to restore the people's communication capabilities which were taken away by the technology from Nokia and Siemens. More specifically, it sounds like the government is trying to give the people of those countries another way to undermine their own gover

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by TheCarp (96830)

        I actually don't care about the nation states so called "national enemies".

        Send them hydrogen bombs for all I care. Seriously. The whole security and fear meme is so overrated. We spent years preparing for a war that was plainly just never going to happen with the USSR, because the fucking idiots in charge on both sides were so afraid that the other one was planning to come after them.

        The last thing we need is more excuses for these people to have pissing contests. Its ridiculous for them to think that any

        • by techno-vampire (666512) on Monday March 08, 2010 @06:24PM (#31407484) Homepage
          We spent years preparing for a war that was plainly just never going to happen with the USSR, because the fucking idiots in charge on both sides were so afraid that the other one was planning to come after them.

          Written with 20/20 hindsight. I lived through that era and I can assure you that it wasn't that clear at the time. There were many points (e.g., during the Cuban Missile Crisis) when it looked like somebody was going to push The Button any day now. In one sense, MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) worked: the Soviets were just as afraid that we were going to attack them as we were of a Soviet attack with the result that both sides did what they could to keep tensions below the flash-point.

  • by presidenteloco (659168) on Monday March 08, 2010 @03:31PM (#31404842)

    Than a country full of sedentary layabouts twittering to each other like chickadees
    about the price of spice
    and admiring their own portraits on facebook.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You should have written that as a haiku:

      New social warfare
      Another nation brought low
      By social networks.

    • by aztektum (170569)

      Tell you what, I wish I had cable news at home. I can't wait to see Cheney's head explode on Faux News over this deal.

  • by MichaelCrawford (610140) on Monday March 08, 2010 @03:33PM (#31404880) Homepage Journal
    For several years now I've been giving away free copies of my piano CD [geometricvisions.com]. I have received several requests from residents of Iran, and I would like very much to send them, but I haven't wanted to even try to figure out how to get approval from the Bureau of Export Administration.

    It's not like my music is some kind of weapon.

    You'd think that following the rules would just be a matter of looking up which countries are embargoed, but it's not that simple. In many cases it's not the country that's embargoed, it's specific individuals or organizations - in the case of Iran, it's the Revolutionary Guard, among others.

    I'm pretty sure there's a procedure by which I could get a license, and I would be happy to go to all the trouble and expense that would be required. What I'm not looking forward to though is if and when I do get the required licenses, having to explain to the clerk at my post office that I have the permission of the Feral Gummint to mail my music to Persia.

    • free = gift (?) (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Comboman (895500)
      I would think that if your CDs are free, it's a gift and not really an export. I know many Cuban-Americans have been sending gifts to family in Cuba for years with no problems (at least, no problems on the US end).
      • Every thing leaving the country is an export. The question is whether it's a taxable export, and whether your post office workers care.

        This seems like a good thing to me. I know programs like Ventrilo [ventrilo.com] were a restricted export.

    • by corbettw (214229)

      Why not make an ISO of your CD available on your website and then provide any country-specific filtering? If someone wants it, they can just download it and burn a copy for themselves.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mcgrew (92797) *

      It's not like my music is some kind of weapon.

      Woodie Guthrie had a guitar that had written on it This machine kills facists [wikipedia.org] (larger photo here [wikimedia.org])

    • Two easy and proven solutions:

      1. Use a proxy country. send it to a country that has no export limitations to Iran.
      2. There are companies, that offer you, to open a PO box in the US, and ship anything sent there to you. At least in UAE people do that, and so can buy anything you can get as a US company. The company itself does not care for any export limitations or anything, I think.

    • It's not like my music is some kind of weapon.

      But it is a weapon: a weapon of Cultural Mass Destruction. As long as young Iranians want to have it and the mullahs don't want them to, your music is a weapon pointed straight at the heart of the current regime. If people in Iran want it, send it!

    • by xaxa (988988)

      Send it/an ISO to me (in the UK) and I'll forward them for you. There will definitely be no problem with Cuba. North Korea is fine too, although their government might stop the import of the CD.
      (It's £1.38 to send an 80g packet to any of these countries.)

      (The UK/EU does restrict what can be sent to Iran, but the only forbidden items are weapons or their components, or nuclear material. I see no problem whatsoever sending a music CD.)

      I don't know about the USA, but here you can send anything anywhere w

    • Completely off topic, I'd like to point out to other /.ers that I've requested and received the Geometric Visions disc that the parent sends. It's solo piano and although it is not my type of music, I do play it every so often to change pace. I definitely recommend picking up a copy.

      Thanks, Michael!

  • by drumcat (1659893) on Monday March 08, 2010 @03:42PM (#31404970)
    Folks, nothing could be better than trading with your enemies. It has worked for millennia, and will continue to do so. Trade Iran's government into a needy, third-world leech. It's better than a war. Their people are magnificent, intelligent, and just like us in many cases. Hell, they even get all ideological, like Joel O'Steen and such. Let's trade some curry and hookahs for blue jeans, and call off the war, k?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by vlm (69642)

      Let's trade some curry and hookahs for blue jeans, and call off the war, k?

      Hmm.... Our military industrial complex vs our dead textile industry. I wonder which will set policy.

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      "Trade Iran's government into a needy, third-world leech."

      Looking at the direction of the flow of wealth, third-world nations are not the leeches.

    • by corbettw (214229) <corbettw AT yahoo DOT com> on Monday March 08, 2010 @04:21PM (#31405522) Journal

      Considering how hot every single Persian chick I've ever met is, I fully support the idea of peaceful, loving relations with Iran, as often as possible.

    • by BZ (40346)

      > It has worked for millennia, and will continue to do so.

      Worked in what sense? Preventing wars? Didn't really work that well for WWI or any of a whole bunch of other wars....

    • Meh, this way we get all their Engineers.

    • Let's trade some curry and hookahs for blue jeans

      If I am giving up my Levi's I want some exotic Persian women in return. They can keep their damned hookahs. =P

    • So... you say the US should copy China?

      Would only be fair, if you ask me. They copied everything else from us.

  • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Monday March 08, 2010 @03:42PM (#31404974)
    When will the government learn that about the only way people continue to be oppressed through governments is poverty, lack of information, and brainwashing. By allowing citizens of countries with oppressive governments to be opened to art, music, literature, communication and visitors from the "free" world, it will inspire citizens to rebel. Selfishness is a virtue, it helps keep a sane government if there is at least some communication with the outside world. If we would flood Cuba with American tourists, artists, musicians, and brought them computers, cell phones, etc. chances are the dictatorship would fall (mostly because Cuba is well within travel distance from the US, and while some other "free" countries allow travel/etc to Cuba like Canada, they lack the -very- close distance).
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gmuslera (3436)
      I don't see people from US to rebel to government because oppresive laws like i.e. sharing things on internet (in all variants, from pictures of your niece to a nice sound file you found around), no privacy, and other things that should be for granted in a "free" country. And they had internet since the start. Don't see China citizens rebelling neither, in fact, there are very vocal supporters of their government.

      And different way of living don't mean worse for them. Your values could be different to their
      • by TheSync (5291) on Monday March 08, 2010 @05:59PM (#31407172) Journal

        Don't see China citizens rebelling neither, in fact, there are very vocal supporters of their government.

        What was that whole Tiananmen Square thing then?

        Or China warns again against Hong Kong democracy push [google.com]?

        And why does China have to jail democracy activists [bbc.co.uk]?

        The truth is that China is 1.3 billion people with 1.3 billion different political beliefs. A good number of them are pushing for democracy. As to how many, we can't know in a non-democracy that jails people who are "subversive" to the autocracy.

        It is easy to be supportive of your government when your whole future life depends on you saying that you support it.

        • by mjwx (966435)

          It is easy to be supportive of your government when your whole future life depends on you saying that you support it.

          The secret to China's success is that they give their people just enough freedom to make them apathetic or at worse afraid of losing what they have.

          The average Chinese person has food in their bellies, a roof over their head, the lights stay on and they can get booze, see a movie or other diversions. The bread and circuses type arrangement. Their lives aren't controlled 100% , Chinese pe

      • I don't see people from US to rebel to government because oppresive laws like i.e. sharing things on internet (in all variants, from pictures of your niece to a nice sound file you found around),

        Um, they -are- rebelling, they simply are doing it without caring about what the government is doing. A lot of people who share files A) Can't vote B) Realize that voting for a sane third-party won't cause change until we get sane representation or C) Simply don't care because the odds of being caught are so low.

        no privacy,

        Again, no party has made a stance against the erosion of privacy (look at the support the PATRIOT act got from both main parties). And yes, there are enough people worried about privacy but they

      • its simply consulting the will of the people. what's western about that? furthermore, what culture exists where people prefer to be slaves and never be consulted about what they want from their government?

        the idea that cultural differences leads to democracy not working in a particular society is extremely insulting to whatever culture you claim to speak for. you are basically saying the people in that society prefer to be slaves

        being able to vote only to one bad candidate is not significantly better than b

  • by Leraika (1749124)
    I wonder if this is a result over the attention the issue got when SourceForge had to temporarily disable access to those countries earlier this year?
  • by unity100 (970058) on Monday March 08, 2010 @03:53PM (#31405104) Homepage Journal

    had you realized to do that sooner, like maybe 10 years ago, a lot might have changed in those countries by now.

    • had you realized to do that sooner, like maybe 10 years ago, a lot might have changed in those countries by now.

      Unlikely. It's not like there is a lack of Open Source software of this sort freely available from non-USA sources.

  • I've always figured that the nature of making software available for download on a website based in the US means that if somebody from Cuba downloads it, they are essentially coming to the US and getting the software, then importing it back to Cuba themselves. It may be a subtle difference with software, but with physical objects, the difference between export and import is pretty obvious. Yes, you can always look it as one person is exporting and the other is importing in any given transaction and pretend
  • by s122604 (1018036) on Monday March 08, 2010 @04:07PM (#31405284)
    The terrorists have won. Way to send us down the path of dhimmitude O'bama!
    • by Chris Burke (6130)

      I have to say, I've never seen a mock spelling of Obama that was so awesome as to suggest that he's secretly Irish.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    This is nice, guys, but when are we going to get rid of the brain-dead(*) restrictions on encryption software, already? As governments and ISPs all over the world have been demonstrating over the past few years, increasing computer power means it is steadily becoming easier to spy on and censor Internet users. To enable truly free communication in the face of a repressive government requires people to defend themselves, through anonymity software such as Tor, Freenet, and I2P, not to mention strong web an

    • That brain-dead restriction was not a problem for RSA and others, they just opened an office in the Cayman Islands and it became encryption imports instead of exports. Something like that had to be done or you could forget about secure international bank transactions.
      The restrictions are stupid anyway. We all have to pay a bit more for SuperMicro motherboards because they got find when someone sold servers with their boards to Iran and meanwhile Honeywell are building an oil refinery there which messes up
  • ... But I still can't go there. Well, at least not from the US. But I might happen to know someone from the US who drove to Canada and then flew to Cuba from Canada (flying over the US to get there of course). Clearly, this is what freedom is all about, right? We have freedom to not travel freely!
  • It's about time that Iran, Sudan and Cuba learned the joys of Internet Explorer 6.
  • In Soviet Russia applications export you!

  • Back around '04 I wrote some programming tutorials for a Wiki (gpwiki.org). These included example source files. About once a year I get an email from someone in Iran seeking clarifications or help. Am(Was?) I (or the Wiki) running afoul of US export laws?

  • Trading anything that can be helpful in making IEDs and WMDs to our enemies (the government of Iran for example) is foolish. Admittedly, they can get parts with other methods-- but that doesn't mean we can't make things more difficult for them or slow them down. Having a software embargo, on the other hand, is fucking ridiculous. What will that accomplish? Absolutely nothing. Politicians needs to study this series of intricate tubes before writings laws regulating them.

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