Elon Musk has the green light to activate Starlink Internet for Iranians

Elon Musk has the green light to activate Starlink Internet for Iranians

US government legal guidelines on expanding internet services to Iranians have been changed despite US sanctions against the country.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has been given the green light by the US government to activate Starlink satellite internet service to help Iranians protest the death of a woman in police custody.

Access to social media and some content is strictly limited in Iran and major internet outages were reported across the country on Saturday, with one of the largest mobile operators disrupted, leaving millions of Iranians offline.

The US Treasury Department issued guidelines on Friday expanding internet services available to Iranians despite US sanctions on the country.

The move follows deadly protests in Iran following the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman who died after being detained by ‘morals police’ who questioned the way she wore her headscarf.

Hundreds of angry protesters have been arrested and crowds have taken to the streets of major cities across Iran for eight consecutive nights. State television said the death toll in the “recent riots” had risen to 35, from 17 previously, including at least five security personnel.

A US State Department spokesperson said the updated license is self-executing and “anyone who meets the criteria set forth in this general license may continue their activities without seeking additional permissions.”

Musk could not be reached for comment or clarification regarding Starlink’s authorization to operate in Iran.

However, he said on Monday that the company wanted to provide Starlink satellite broadband service – already provided to Ukraine for its fight against the Russian invasion – to Iranians and would seek an exception to the sanctions.

Iran has restricted access to social media networks Instagram and WhatsApp amid the protests, according to locals and internet watchdog NetBlocks.

Azadeh Akbari of the University of Twente said the digital shutdown in Iran is “a continuation of decades of internet filtering by the Iranian government”.

She gave examples of “keyboard filtering” and the arrest of journalists as a means of suppressing access.

Akbari added that with the global cyberspace shutdown in Iran, it would be increasingly “difficult and dangerous” for members of the public to access secure messaging apps and use methods to circumvent blocks.

Speaking from Capetown, South Africa, mobile video journalism editor Yusuf Omar said the Iranian government’s attempts to limit internet access are a form of “government censorship” as well as “self-censorship”. Population.

“People we contact with stories even if they have internet access for a few hours and want to send a video. They are really scared,” Omar told Al Jazeera.

President Ebrahim Raisi said on Saturday that Iran must “decisively deal with those who oppose the security and tranquility of the country”, Iranian state media reported.

Raisi’s comments came during a condolence phone call to the family of a security guard who was stabbed to death last week, allegedly by protesters enraged by Amini’s death.

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