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Want to Help Iranians Defeat Censorship? It's Legal Now.

Iran FlagLowEndTalk member @postcd recently reshared an appeal from Signal entitled “Help users in Iran reconnect to Signal” and there are some interesting developments on this front.

First some basics.  Signal is an encrypted, FOSS instant messaging service.  Interestingly, development was partially funded by the US government through financial acrobatics of the Open Technology Fund.  It has found popularity (along with Telegram) among a wide variety of users, from casual chatters to terrorists, and has proven popular in areas of the world where government repression is heavy.

Not surprisingly, many of these regimes have been quick to block Signal where possible.  Last year, Signal published a note (which @postcd reshared this week) encouraging Westerners to setup proxies to defeat Iranian censorship.

Not so fast, you might think, because in the U.S. there are heavy sanctions in place for anyone who assists Iran.  While the motivation here is to assist the Iranian people rather than the government, it’s a legal ambiguity and possible exposure that would cause many to pause.

However, fellow LET reader @emg observes that the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control has changed its policy to allow users to “provide personal communications software and support to the people of Iran, but not the Iranian government”.  The details are here and here,

So are you planning to share one of your VPSes’ bandwidth to assist Iranians in evading censorship?  Tell us about it in the comments below!

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