Access applauds the recent decision by U.S. government agencies to modify sanctions to allow the export of vital technologies to Crimea once again. Announced earlier today in the Federal Register, the new exemptions allow tech companies to resume the export of key communications technologies, software, and services.
“This move is a victory for people in Crimea, and a recognition that personal communications technology should be exempted from any and all sanctions,” said Access Senior Policy Counsel Peter Micek. “Vulnerable users need internet access to tell their stories and receive information that can save their lives, and government policy should not further imperil users at risk. The onus is now on companies to act on the new rules and to resume offering services to people in Crimea.”
“Unfortunately, people in Crimea still won’t have the same access to paid services and devices as the rest of us,” Micek continued. “Restrictions on hardware, like smartphones, as well as fee-based services, remain in place. We’ll keep pressing the U.S. government to issue exemptions for these technologies, as it has in other sanctioned countries.”
Earlier this year, we noted that internet users in Crimea and elsewhere in the region were suddenly being denied communications services based on their location, due to U.S. government sanctions. Access and our partners wrote a letter calling for the office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC)—the agency charged with enforcing the sanctions—to issue a general license that would protect internet users and the free flow of information. The letter was signed by EFF, Global Voices Advocacy, New America’s Open Technology Institute, and Ferrari & Associates, P.C.
Global Policy and Legal Counsel, Access
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