Elon Musk Should Provide Internet in Iran, Lawmakers Yellen Argues

(Bloomberg) — Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen should give Elon Musk’s satellite Internet service Starlink clearance to operate in Iran, which has been widely sanctioned as the country faces widespread protests, a bipartisan group of lawmakers said.

Musk “recently said SpaceX would seek a license to provide its Starlink satellite-based Internet service to Iran,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter to Yellen. “If a license application is submitted, we ask that you approve it immediately.” Musk requested the exemption in a tweet on Monday.

The letter was spearheaded by Representatives Claudia Tenney, Republican of New York, and Tom Malinowski, Democrat of New Jersey, and several other lawmakers signed it. They also called on the Fund to clarify its policies on fostering communications access in approved countries and to urge the Department to issue any necessary “comfort letters” to entities that may attempt to provide communications services under general licences. previously issued.

“Congress is asking the Treasury Department to do everything possible to help the people of Iran stay connected to the Internet,” Tenney said in a statement. “We need to cut any bureaucratic red tape and do that.”

Demonstrations began in Iran last Friday following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, a young woman who fell into a coma after Tehran’s morality police arrested her for allegedly flouting Islamic dress codes. Protests have since been reported in scores of towns and cities including the capital Tehran as well as Karaj, Shiraz, Tabriz, Kerman, Kish Island, Yazd, Neyshapur, Esfahan and Mashhad.

Death toll of Iran protests rises to 17 as unrest grows

“Iranians are taking to the streets demanding justice for Mahsa,” Malinowski said. “We must do our part to ensure that Iranians remain connected to the outside world.”

A Treasury spokesman said the department already licenses some services related to Internet communications, including those using satellite terminals like Starlink, and welcomes applications for specific licenses related to Internet freedom in Iran.

Daniel Tannebaum, a partner at Oliver Wyman, said companies are sometimes wary of exposing themselves to the risk of US sanctions even when the service they provide is expressly authorized by the Treasury. This is especially true in heavily sanctioned jurisdictions such as Iran.

“It’s a business decision based on risk appetite in the space,” Tannebaum said in an interview. “You need to be confident that you have the right controls in place to stay on the right side of immunity.”

The Treasury has begun advertising for “primary sanctions economists” that officials say will help alleviate these kinds of concerns.

More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com

©2022 Bloomberg LP

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.