Google Tehran: downloads from internet giant available in Iran for the first time

Kevin Rawlinson

Copy of Untitled 13 300x254 Google Tehran: downloads from internet giant available in Iran for the first timeGoogle has begun offering downloads of its Chrome, Picasa and Earth programmes in Iran for the first time after a US embargo banning their transfer was relaxed.

The internet giant made the announcement yesterday on its official blog. In the post, a Google spokesman said the company believed that “more available products means more choice, more freedom, and ultimately more power for individuals in Iran and across the globe”.

And today, Google’s head of public policy Scott Rubin, told The Independent: “It is our core mission to make information universally accessible.” But he added that the company wants to “make sure that the tools we provide are as safe and secure as possible. In certain places, the use of the internet could put people in jeopardy; if they are under government surveillnace, for example.

A spokesman said that Google would “remain committed to full compliance with U.S. export controls and sanctions programs”, meaning that downloads will remain unavailable in Cuba, North Korea, Sudan and Syria. Speculation abounds as to whether Google covets an eventual move into those territories. Mr Rubin refused to confirm that any specific plans to that effect are in place, saying only: “There is nothing specific regarding any of the other countries but we believe that access to information all over the world is a positive force.”

Export restrictions, which previously prohibited downloads from American companies in Iran were relaxed around a year ago but Google took its time in order to “make sure we were in compliance with US export restrictions”. As part of that, it will continue to block downloads to IP addresses associated with the Iranian government.

During the disputed 2009 elections in Iran, which saw demonstrations on the streets of London, Tehran many media outlets were shut down while the government is thought to have infiltrated networks, posing as activists, many of whom used social networking site Twitter to keep the world up to date on events.

In yesterday’s blog post, a Google spokesman said its products are “specifically designed to help people create, communicate, share opinions and find information”. But Mr Rubin said he was unsure of the level of success Google could expect with its latest step into the unkown. In the past, it has threatened to leave China after it came under cyber attack in the country. As PC World reported, its share of online searches there has only just bgeun to recover.

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  • Richard_SM

    This piece needs editing. It appears to be two different drafts attached together.

  • SuitBoi

    Have they sorted the security issues with Haystack yet?

  • Asif Wahid Shah

    an important olive branch. Chrome is a remarkable programme. I look forward to laughing at Iranians when they lose to South Korea.

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