Crimean residents want to deny access to American services and software

    RBC reports that US President Barack Obama issued a decree banning American companies from supplying goods and services in Crimea. The IT sphere also falls under the embargo. From recent history, it is known that in 1997, US President Bill Clinton signed a decree banning the export to Iran of “any goods, technologies or services.” At that time, the Internet and electronic communications were not yet widespread, and Clinton hardly imagined that the classical embargo would soon turn into a new type of blockade for Iran - an “electronic blockade”.

    On Friday, December 19, 2014, US President Barack Obama, using exactly the same wording as Clinton 17 years ago, by his decree imposed an almost complete embargo on the Crimea. But now the consequences of such a decision are clearer: one of them may be blocking on the peninsula such familiar services as Gmail or Skype, blocking access to popular American software - Firefox, Google Chrome or Java.

    Obama’s Decree “On Blocking the Ownership of Certain Persons and the Prohibition of Certain Transactions Concerning the Crimean Region of Ukraine” prohibits “exporting, re-exporting, selling or supplying, directly or indirectly, any goods, services or technologies from the United States or by a person of the United States, wherever was in the Crimean region of Ukraine. " The embargo implies not only a ban on the supply of American goods to Crimea (which does not go there directly), but also a ban on Crimean residents' access to Internet services and widespread programs and applications - even if they are distributed free of charge. The only exception is the "humanitarian" position - medicines and agricultural products.

    Obama’s “Crimean” decree does indeed imply that the embargo also applies to Internet services, confirms Cliff Burns, a lawyer at Bryan Cave, a Washington-based company specializing in sanctions and export controls: “The fact that services like Gmail are free doesn't change anything.” According to Burns, this is “somewhat unexpected,” given that all other US sanctions programs, including Iran’s, are excluded as civilians have free access to Internet services and communication applications. How technically Google and other companies will enforce the Crimean embargo, the lawyer does not yet know.

    Suppose, under this decree, Apple may refuse to activate the iPhone in the Crimea. But how technically it is possible to provide such isolation is not entirely clear. Recently on Habré the message of one of users caused lively discussionthat he was disconnected from the most popular freelance exchange Odesk due to the fact that he lives in Crimea. But this happened because he himself indicated his place of residence in the profile. Attempts to block by ip always contain a certain percentage of errors - despite the fact that these locks are very easily bypassed through a VPN, proxy or Tor browser. Technically advanced users will be able to use Russian analogues of Western services (instead of gmail - Yandex or or download Yandex.Browser instead of Firefox. Perhaps this will even serve as a motivation to switch to secure means of communication with open source code, for example, from proprietary Skype to free Tox .

    How the USA arranged an Internet blockade of Iran

    Iran has been under pressure from US economic sanctions since 1979. The ban included, in particular, the supply of high-tech equipment to the country. Over time, the embargo extended to the supply of software, Internet services and telecommunication technologies.


    After the 2009 elections, a wave of protests swept across the country. It turned out that residents of the country successfully circumvent bans. To disseminate information, the protesters actively used Twitter, Facebook and other services. At this time, the State Department even turned to the leadership of Twitter with a request to cancel the scheduled preventive work.

    2010 year

    The United States weakened the "electronic curtain" in Iran only in 2010, allowing residents to install free American programs and use free services for communicating on the Internet: browsers, blog platforms, e-mail, instant messaging services, social networks. Washington attributed this relief to the desire "to ensure the universal right of citizens to freedom of speech and information."


    US authorities gave Iranians access to personal communication tools (Google Talk, Microsoft Live, free Skype), personal data storage (Dropbox), browsers (Google Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer), plug-ins (Flashplayer, Shockwave, Java), programs for reading documents (Acrobat Reader). This decision followed the next anti-government demonstrations.


    In 2013, Washington allowed the Iranians to provide paid software for personal communication, for example, Skype with a monthly fee, as well as communication devices (smartphones, satellite phones, laptops, tablets), peripherals, antivirus programs, and mobile operating systems.

    PS: In connection with these events, I thank Meklon for reminding me of my interesting article “ Doing backup Google or paranoia about sanctions. Owncloud and other open solutions

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