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Google Releases Software To Iran 286

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the zomg-they-can-see-your-house dept.
eldavojohn writes "After working closely with US officials following the lifting of export restrictions, Google has announced that their Google Earth, Picasa and Chrome are now available for download in Iran. US sanctions once prevented this but now Google has created versions of its popular software that block all Iranian government IP addresses from utilizing them — thus satisfying the new restrictions."
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Google Releases Software To Iran

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  • Home of the Free (Score:5, Insightful)

    by elrous0 (869638) * on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @09:23AM (#34926952)

    I always love a government that tells me where I can and can't travel, where I can and can't sell my stuff, who I can and can't talk to--then proceeds to bad-mouth everyone else for not being free enough. Even when I was a kid and everyone was chiding the Ruskies with the "Papers please" and "In Russia you can't travel around or say whatever you want without government permission" I was stuck with the hypocrisy. Try telling the next cop who pulls you over that you don't need to show him your papers and see what happens. Try to take a vacation to Cuba sometime and see how free you are to travel anywhere. Try to export your software (or any other goods) to a country the U.S. doesn't like at the moment (i.e. countries who won't play ball) and see who comes knocking on your door.

    What if the Google guys legitimately believe that the Iranian government is running a peaceful nuclear program and is being unfairly targeted by a hostile U.S. ally (Israel)? Not saying this is the case, but shouldn't they still be able to sell them non-weapon/non-military software if they want to? That's hardly an unreasonable "freedom" in a country that holds itself as a bastion of both personal freedom and glorious capitalism.

    Maybe I would see it differently if the U.S. were actually at *WAR* with Iran. But if the criterion is "any country we don't like today," then exporting any product must be a goddamn nightmare for any international corporation.

    • Re:Home of the Free (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Ephemeriis (315124) on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @09:50AM (#34927292)

      I always love a government that tells me where I can and can't travel, where I can and can't sell my stuff, who I can and can't talk to--then proceeds to bad-mouth everyone else for not being free enough. Even when I was a kid and everyone was chiding the Ruskies with the "Papers please" and "In Russia you can't travel around or say whatever you want without government permission" I was stuck with the hypocrisy. Try telling the next cop who pulls you over that you don't need to show him your papers and see what happens. Try to take a vacation to Cuba sometime and see how free you are to travel anywhere. Try to export your software (or any other goods) to a country the U.S. doesn't like at the moment (i.e. countries who won't play ball) and see who comes knocking on your door.

      Yup.

      And back then things really were pretty free and open... Look at what we're putting up with today. You don't even need to try to vacation in Cuba to get an invasive search at the airport.

      What if the Google guys legitimately believe that the Iranian government is running a peaceful nuclear program and is being unfairly targeted by a hostile U.S. ally (Israel)? Not saying this is the case, but shouldn't they still be able to sell them non-weapon/non-military software if they want to? That's hardly an unreasonable "freedom" in a country that holds itself as a bastion of both personal freedom and glorious capitalism.

      At least with Google Earth I can almost see the logic... It could possibly be used for military planning or something...

      Chrome... Umm... Maybe it's got some nice encryption for SSL stuff? Or something? I remember there used to be a problem exporting Netscape back in the day.

      Picasa... I'm at a loss. What're they going to do, upload pictures of government office buildings or something? I have a hard time envisioning any way to use Picasa for nefarious purposes.

      Maybe I would see it differently if the U.S. were actually at *WAR* with Iran. But if the criterion is "any country we don't like today," then exporting any product must be a goddamn nightmare for any international corporation.

      I'm sure it is... But that isn't just a problem with the US. Every nation is going to use its exports as a lever to get what they want. And in order to exert that leverage, they're going to make things more complex/difficult for the folks trying to earn a living off those exports.

      • by Dunbal (464142) *

        Except that in order to be able to use a lever, you need some sort of fulcrum to exert the force against. So blocking exports from your country, in an age where pretty much any other country is capable of producing the exact same goods, is akin to shooting yourself in the foot. FINE we'll buy it across the street... The US is no longer the only country that has satellites in orbit, or even a GPS system.

      • by alta (1263)

        You list different programs, and it struck me funny.

        Made me think of the US running an app store, deciding which countries can get which programs. Not a good use of resources. Personally I'd rather they just say no exports to cuba, and spend that money on the app store doing something productive, like studying the sex habits of slugs after drinking alcohol.

    • Re:Home of the Free (Score:4, Interesting)

      by CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @10:01AM (#34927448) Homepage
      The US has lost some freedoms, but it has gained others. It is much easier to be openly homosexual, segregation is no longer enshrined in law, and one doesn't have to participate in school prayers.
      • The US has lost some freedoms, but it has gained others. It is much easier to be openly homosexual, segregation is no longer enshrined in law, and one doesn't have to participate in school prayers.

        It's selfish of me, I know, but I completly disagree with the implied balance of the trade off. I'm a straight, married, middle aged, white male and, while it is a step in the right direction for the Black and Gay communities, my losing personal security, privacy, and the ability to move around the country without being annoyed by whichever LE professional has a chip that day was NOT an acceptable trade off. Nor were any of the other various rights that have been eroded away in the name of "Security". Nor

    • Right, that's the big problem with that rather aggressive video about "don't talk to the cops". If you beeline right for the formalities the cop will get pissed and cite you for something. From what I've seen they wait until they have a backup excuse in hand before pulling you over.

  • Ummmm ... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gstoddart (321705) on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @09:23AM (#34926964) Homepage

    US sanctions once prevented this but now Google has created versions of its popular software that block all Iranian government IP addresses from utilizing them — thus satisfying the new restrictions

    So, couldn't the Iranian government just use different IP addresses?

    This seems like a pretty weak way to get around the export restrictions and sanctions, doesn't it?

    • by somersault (912633) on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @09:29AM (#34927058) Homepage Journal

      In recent news, the Iranian government have moved to telecommuting until they figure out what a proxy is.

      • In other related news, North Korea opens hundreds of Proxy servers for business hoping to get Iran's business.

        • by ArcherB (796902)

          In other related news, North Korea opens hundreds of Proxy servers for business hoping to get Iran's business.

          Or....

          Coffee shops with open wifi near government buildings see surge in Internet traffic.

    • by mapkinase (958129)

      Yes, indeed. Thus Google fooled the US government. And yes, our government is that easy.

    • by santax (1541065)
      Couldn't Iran just use a VPN to a server in the US to log into google earth? Come on... it's google earth... there is nothing on there that Iran (and any country for that matter) doesn't have already.
    • by Krneki (1192201)

      US sanctions once prevented this but now Google has created versions of its popular software that block all Iranian government IP addresses from utilizing them — thus satisfying the new restrictions

      So, couldn't the Iranian government just use different IP addresses?

      This seems like a pretty weak way to get around the export restrictions and sanctions, doesn't it?

      Like they always could?

      Or do you think it was magically blocked in Iran?

      • by gstoddart (321705)

        Or do you think it was magically blocked in Iran?

        I don't think that at all ... I'm just surprised at how easy it is to sidestep the export restrictions.

        "OK, we'll give you this super secret stuff, but you have to promise never to push this button, or it becomes dangerous and we aren't allowed to give you something dangerous."

        What next, as long as you mark it as "gift" you can send them weapons? :-P

        • by TheLink (130905)
          Wouldn't the US Gov want the Iran Gov (and their friends) to be using as much of Google's stuff as possible? Heck even better if they use Facebook, but that's another story...

          The last I checked Google doesn't produce weapons. The Iran Gov can easily buy maps that are more accurate than google's (I've seen plenty of mislabelled buildings and stuff on Google Maps).
        • by blueg3 (192743)

          It's not super secret. It's not really secret at all.

          It's a fairly reasonable approach, considering that any mechanism that you could use to trick Google's new IP-based system you could have used earlier to simply download and use the software. Have you downloaded Google software before? Did you see where you had to provide documentation that proved that you weren't from Iran?

          Anyone with reasonable technical knowhow or decent connections can circumvent export restrictions for downloadable software.

        • by ArcherB (796902)

          What next, as long as you mark it as "gift" you can send them weapons? :-P

          Those are not gun barrels. Those are rigid hookah pipes with laser sights.

    • Maybe they should have reevaluated the situation when the government agreed to the IP restrictions. In giving up so little, they might have given up too much.

      "So, you'll accept blocking known Iranian government IP addresses.....interesting.

      Would you consider a strongly worded restriction in the EULA instead? Or maybe a graphic on the screen that says Not for Iranian Government Use?"

    • by thePig (964303)

      Whoever who could have done anything against the US gov using these applications would already have done this by now. People are talking about proxies etc - can they proxy to a different country?
      All they are doing now is to provide these tools to the Iranian citizens - which is a good thing.

    • by corby (56462)

      So, couldn't the Iranian government just use different IP addresses?

      Maybe, but I imagine that the Iranian government might have some reservations about downloading and running this software anyway. At least until they figure out whether Stuxnet is built into their 'special' version of Chrome, or if it's an optional add-on.

    • I seriously doubt the restrictions were useful anyways. I am sure they could download the software with foreign proxies, or if that failed (it wouldn't) use an agent in another country to forward the program.

      So I don't care if we poke holes in the restrictions, they are political and nothing else. If we could make them work that would be great, but realism must be recognized.

    • by Khashishi (775369)

      Yeah, but they could already do that, with Google Earth, et al, being available for download in, say, United States.

  • That they won't circumnavigate it if they want to! That is the same as in iTunes EULA demanding that you don't use the software in creation of a nuclear device.I understand why they did this, but Sometimes you got to respect the law, even if it's a stupid one!
  • Internet censorship is growing. Traceable IP numbers have become the ultimate censorship tool. Servers and clients need some universal way around it. Tor, i2p, torrents and similar things aren't cutting it because they can't scale, they depend on traceable, censorable IP.
  • Google has created versions of its popular software that block all Iranian government IP addresses from utilizing them

    ..this is a joke, right? Google single handily crippled and prevented the Iranian government from viewing Cheney's backyard in Google Earth with a simple web browser and a bunch of hard-coded IPs?

    • by blueg3 (192743)

      As much as they were ever prevented from using the service before.

    • by Khashishi (775369)

      It's no more of a joke than the previous situation of blocking Iranian downloads with a significantly larger list of IPs.

    • Re:Uhmm... (Score:4, Funny)

      by BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @10:53AM (#34928078) Homepage Journal
      No, they actually just sent all Iranian, government IP addresses a real picture of Cheney's actual backyard which is basically the political equivalent of goatse. After that, the Iranian government said they, "didn't want to play anymore." And we wonder why other countries see us Americans as savages and infidels...
  • Block all government IPs? Yes, because, as we all know, thats so useful. Clearly nobody in the Iranian Government can figure out how to use a proxy... or... get an IP that isn't registered as owned by their government. Yes... way to go. Very effective.

    Seriously, must we be the guy who has a petty argument with his neighbor, and builds 12 foot high ugly fence in retaliation? (and yes, people do that)

    So there... take that.... nya nya nya. You don't get to use this cool web browser, unless you jump through som

    • by ScentCone (795499)
      Not petty BS. Principle. The government of Iran is a brutal, mysoginstic, thuggish theocracy that jails and kills people because they speak out against it. Google is saying, "Here, people of Iran, use our stuff. Government of Iran? We're taking a symbolic step to point out that we consider you to be illegitimate and evil." What's wrong with that? Nothing.
  • Anybody with an ounce of technical knowhow would be able to circumvent this. A government body could easily set up a proxy server in a different country and use that to either run the crippled software or to download the uncrippled versions of the software. Gotta love our government bureaucracy at work. Idiots.
    • by TheCarp (96830)

      Anybody with an ounce of technical knowhow already used a proxy to download it...the day it came out.

      The phrase "a day late and a dollar short" comes to mind. As does the Catholic Church's forgiveness of Galileo.

      Maybe these sanctions are someone's personal attempt to be nominated to the dipshit hall of fame?

      -Steve

  • Do we really believe as a country that Iran didn't have access through proxies anyway?

    I find the whole "can't export 256 bit encryption" and the very laughable series of questions to download Oracle products comical.

  • When did I miss this? I agree the export regs on open source software are kinda silly (Iranians couldn't possible figure out what an Anonymous Proxy is, right?). But I didn't even notice this happening. Our country's rhetoric hasn't changed one bit (they're still the enemy), but here we are dropping export regulations. Our news media really does suck, this shoulda been bigger news. And the papers wonder why no one's buying. What's the point if you're just going to report the (corporate) party line?
  • I am sure they didn't prevent anything, people have learned to get around sanctions as a way of life. Like the flow of water, it finds other routes around the sanction dam.
    • by TheCarp (96830)

      I have to point out a few of things:

      1. They have tried these sorts of software export regulations before, and it failed miserably before. ::cough::RSA::cough::
      2. The US government pretty much invented the damned internet, you would think that they would know how it works
      3. The insanity of doing the same, ineffective things, over and over again, is generally lost on anyone in government.

  • so naive (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pz (113803) on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @09:38AM (#34927170) Journal

    This is either astonishingly naive, or propaganda. I can't quite figure out which.

    From the US Government, I would believe naivete, given any of a large collection of equivalent moves that are demonstrably idiotic.

    From Google, I have a hard time accepting that they aren't smart enough to understand the very many ways that IP-based restrictions can be circumvented by anyone more talented than a sixth -- no, wait -- fourth grader. This is Google we're talking about who have brought us a large number of amazing things that require lots and lots of smarts to implement, and "Hey Muhammed, go to the internet cafe around the corner with this laptop and download Google Earth, please, the US pigs have blocked our government IP address," is something that will occur to the people there. So, Google must be doing this with a wink in order to either further some political agenda, or increase their customer base. Since I am not aware of any political agenda, I'm leaning toward greed. Propaganda either way.

    So naivite from the US, and propaganda from Google. Anyone have evidence to the contrary?

    • by oodaloop (1229816)
      I would sooner believe this is just a palatable compromise to some govt officials. Plenty of people in the US govt know about proxies, since we, um, use them ourselves. But perhaps members of congress don't realize how easy it is to circumvent, so it sounds pretty good to them. So we get to look like we're taking a hard line against Iran, without actually having to take a hard line.
      • I concur. The export restrictions are frankly ridiculous in this case. If they wanted to, the Iranian government could just send someone to US to download Google's software for free. If Iran can import centrifuges to purify Uranium, they can surely use proxies to download the software directly too (spoofing their country of origin). It's probably a face-saving gesture for he more "senile" members of congress.

        Indeed, Google says they worked with US government officials before releasing the software with thes

        • by oodaloop (1229816)
          I don't think merely downloading it from somewhere else would work for GE. GE connects back to the Google Earth server, so Google can still block it from being used, as in they have the program but it doesn't do anything. A simple proxy should still work though.
      • by pz (113803)

        I would sooner believe this is just a palatable compromise to some govt officials. Plenty of people in the US govt know about proxies, since we, um, use them ourselves. But perhaps members of congress don't realize how easy it is to circumvent, so it sounds pretty good to them. So we get to look like we're taking a hard line against Iran, without actually having to take a hard line.

        Proxies are a difficult concept. Taking your laptop to a different location (home, cafe, friend's work) is easy since, I'd wager, most people with laptops already do it. While laptops might not be quite as ubiquitous in Middle Eastern governments than in the US government, I'd expect to see enough of them to effectively neuter this restriction. And that's for the naive politicians who have never heard of a proxy. Motivated IT folks are another matter entirely.

        I was in Istanbul (technically not the Middl

    • by Krneki (1192201)
      Bla bla bla bla ..... more non-sense.

      Except from IP address, do you know any other way to block someone from accessing your web resources?

    • by gnieboer (1272482)

      But how embarrassing is it to how to leave the secure nuclear targeting center facility with cool security, fancy badges, and lots of plasma screen TV's, and have to leave to go to some random coffee stop to get imagery of Tel Aviv...

    • by santax (1541065)
      Do you have evidence of what you are stating? This is very easy: hi this is my personal believe, if you can't disprove it, it must be true. Are you a religious person by any chance?
    • by blueg3 (192743)

      It was already downloadable software. It's roughly as inaccessible to the Iranian government as it was before, but now more accessible to Iranian non-government.

    • by Draek (916851)

      Propaganda is refusing to spend time and resources on enforcing an idiotic law of the US government, passed only for political reasons?

      Good fucking lord, the Google haters around here are becoming as bad as the "M$" crowd.

    • by tukang (1209392)

      Maybe Google and the government are smart enough to realize that blocking Iranian government IPs is just as effective as blocking all Iranian IPs - in other words it's not effective at all.

      Do you honestly think that if anyone in the Iranian government wanted access to Google Earth, that they weren't able to get it? There are a ton of responses to this very story about how one could easily use a proxy to circumvent the IP blocking, well guess what, that was also possible before.

      If anything the ban was naive.

    • by Verunks (1000826)
      well google obviously doesn't care to implement this restriction properly, and since ip blocking is enough to satisfy the us government why would they waste time doing something else?
      also google earth needs to be connected to google server at all the time so just downloading it from an internet cafe won't work
    • by Rich0 (548339)

      Well, Google has to follow the law, and so they are following it. I doubt they really care much either way - if the regulator says that some completely meaningless but simple to implement control is satisfactory, why would Google argue with them over it?

      Lots of countries actually have these kinds of laws on the books. They're mostly a matter of national pride or sending a message.

      I know a guy who was working for a fortune 500 company and was setting up a plant in asia. They had a budget code for bribes.

    • by Fastolfe (1470)

      You're misunderstanding what happened here and completely missing the point.

      The IP blocking isn't Google's clever solution to circumvent US export controls. The sanctions in question here were lifted by the US government, and the new export controls require this IP blocking. Please read at least something beyond the summary.

      Second, the goal here is to get tools for sharing and communication in the hands of the Iranian people, to give them more options the next time their government decides to restrict acc

  • by gnieboer (1272482) on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @10:11AM (#34927562)

    Let's make a huge assumptions that this IP restriction actually works...

    What must it be like to download and use a piece of software that you can use but your own government isn't allowed to use? Takes a way some of the perception of the gov'ts power I'd imagine. A bit emasculating even. Which of course might be the reason the USG is allowing this to proceed. A sanction that is truly against the government, not the people.

    Sadly, I don't think a software release will result in a democratic Iran. But it would be nice.

  • by glwtta (532858) on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @10:41AM (#34927930) Homepage
    Good thing the export restrictions were lifted, I seem to remember a story from the other day about the US government "releasing software" to Iran.
  • by snspdaarf (1314399) on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @10:51AM (#34928054)
    When I put new shingles on my roof, I spelled out "Fuck you, Ahmedinejad" (It's a long house). Glad to see this was not a waste of time and effort.

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