US to resume software exports to Cuba
Published on Wednesday, March 10, 2010
By Mark Drajem
WASHINGTON, USA (Bloomberg) — The Treasury Department has changed its
sanctions rules to let US companies such as Microsoft Corp. and Google
Inc. resume instant messaging, e-mail and social networking services in
Cuba, Iran and Sudan.
The US issued new general licenses authorizing exports to the sanctioned
nations of "software related to the exchange of personal communications
over the Internet" following a State Department request, the Treasury
said in a statement today. The change is immediate and includes software
publicly available at no cost to the user, according to the regulations.
"This software will foster and support the free flow of information — a
basic human right," Deputy Treasury Secretary Neal Wolin said in the
Microsoft and Google last year cut off the use of instant messages by
citizens of Iran, Syria, Cuba and Sudan, saying US regulations
prohibited the required downloads. The State Department made a public
appeal to ease rules on software in December, saying people worldwide
should have unfettered access to information, which is "essential to the
national interest of the United States."
The new rules also allow the use of software for Web browsing, blogging,
chat rooms and photo and movie sharing, according to the Treasury. The
department's statement made no mention of Syria.
Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft, the world's largest software maker,
ended access to Windows Live Messenger, its instant-messaging
application, last year to meet obligations to not do business with
markets on the US sanctions list.
Google, based in Mountain View, California, doesn't permit the download
of Google Talk, its instant messaging and voice chat service, or of
Google Earth, Google Desktop and other services in sanctioned nations.
"It makes sense" to ease the rules, Thomas Crocker, a lawyer at Alston &
Bird LLP, said in an interview before the announcement. "What you are
doing is undoing years of wanting to ban all commerce with Iran."
Caribbean Net News: US to resume software exports to Cuba (10 March 2010)