Obama sanctions those complicit in the 'malign use of technology' in Syria and Iran

The White House announced April 23 an executive order placing sanctions against individuals and companies complicit in Iran and Syria's "malign use of technology."

The order (.pdf)  mostly imposes sanctions against people or companies already designated for sanctions under previous executive orders, such as the privately-owned Syrian telecommunications company Syriatel.

The only entity newly designated by the order is Iranian Internet service provider Datak Telecom. A Treasury Department fact sheet (.pdf) says Datak has collaborated with the Iranian government to provide information on individuals trying to circumvent the government's blocks on Internet content, "allowing for their monitoring, tracking, and targeting."

The significance of the order may not lie so much in the immediate designations of the Iranian or Syrian entities, but in the precedent of human rights abuses "facilitated by computer and network disruption, monitoring, and tracking" being cause for U.S. sanctions.

The order permits the Treasury Secretary, in consultation with the Secretary of State, to place future sanctions against any person found to have sold or provided--even indirectly--goods, services or technology to Iran or Syria likely to be used to facilitate "network disruption, monitoring, or tracking that could assist in or enable serious human rights abuses."

A sanctioned person or entity has their property or interests within the United States seized, comes under a business transaction prohibition and cannot ordinarily travel to the United States.    

Senior administration officials told the Washington Post the order could be the first of others also targeted at those who aid repressive governments in technology-aided crackdowns on dissents.

For more:
- download the executive order (.pdf)
- download a Treasury Department fact sheet on the order (.pdf)
- download a letter to House Speaker John Boehner from Obama regarding the order (.pdf)

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