Iran: How US Sanctions Cripple the Tech Community


Sallar Kaboli writes for Medium:

I’m a software developer and user interface designer based in Tehran, Iran. I’ve been working as a designer/developer in Tech industry since 2003.

Iranian tech community has been trying to keep up with the world specially the United States, since almost every big revolution in tech happens there. We have many talented engineers, developers, designers, analysts and entrepreneurs in Iran and many of them are as educated as the ones in the United States and other industrial countries. They study, read, educate themselves and keep up with what’s happening right now in the world.

It’s true that we don’t have access to high-speed uncensored Internet like the rest the of the world and this makes it really difficult to work and grow in this country. The highest bandwidth we can get our hands on is 8Mbps and without a VPN connection or proxy service, we don’t have access to many sites like Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, etc. But we manage to get our hands on proxy services all the time so accessing blocked websites is not that much of a hassle these days.

Despite all these restrictions, we still do our best to keep up day by day. It’s just more difficult for us than it is for the rest of the world.

In past few years, the United States government has imposed many sanctions on Iran and Iranian people because of the political differences they have with the Iranian government (I’m not going into that) and they claim they are not affecting lives of Iranians and they’re intented to pressure the government.

Here’s the bad news: They make our lives a living hell.

There are sanctions on exporting hardware, software and services to Iran and anyone from Iran, sanctions on education (MOOC, eg. Coursera), Sanctions on providing Iranians with Web Hosting, Domains and SSL Certificates and many more.

I’m going to show you some examples:

*We can not buy hosting space, VPS, domains, SSL certificates and anything related from the companies in the U.S. If even our customer address is located in Iran, our accounts get blocked completely.

*We can not access (even read-only) many Google services like Google Codes and Google Analytics even though Google has official support for our language: Persian.

*We can not use services like cPanel from Iran and if we host a .ir domain or even access the panel from an Iranian IP address, we get blocked.

*We can not access Facebook developers platform if we are from Iran.

*We can not select Iran as our country in Twitter settings (or any other American service or website for that matter).

*We can not use online learning services like Coursera due to recent sanctions.

*There is no “Iran” option in iOS settings, even though iOS fully supports it, and has a complete Persian keyboard but we can not select it without hacks or jailbreak.

*We can not use payment services like Paypal even if we have a real account outside of Iran, if we access Paypal using Iranian IP address even for a second, Paypal blocks the whole account for ever (and keeps the money).

*We can not use advertising platforms like Google Adsense.

*No company in the United States supports our currency (Iranian Rials) or accepts payments from Iran.

*We can not sell or release our work in websites like ThemeForest.

*We can not sell our Apps on online app stores like Google Play or Apple’s Appstore.

*We can not buy anything from stores in the US. Even if we have a working Paypal account or credit card they won’t ship to Iran.

*And many more.

These are all restrictions imposed on us by the U.S. government and companies fearing those rules.

Read full article….

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  1. I find this guy ridiculous! Iran has repeatedly not declared its nuclear facilities which, according to my knowledge, it is obliged to under the NPT.

    It is only the IRI leadership that is to be blamed for all the ensuing hardships (and those who support these stupid policies).

    This supposedly clever chap should know that keeping contracts and trust is at the core of our society (as opposed to his masters, as it seems).

    He should be happy that the West has used much restraint in building up those sanctions that were time and again dismissed as worthless.

    I just cannot stand this whiny nonsense! In about the same category go the complaints about the lack of medical supplies (allegedly all to be attributed to evil works of the big Satan). US people are very helpful according to my experience. I wonder, what he would say, if it were some other country that would sanction Iran for its repeated breaches of contract…

  2. “I’m a software developer…”

    What I as a witness think of his plight and the effect of sanctions are all matter of context.

    As a bystander citizen of iran, sure, he is suffering, sadly. And I’m not sure what I would do today if I were in his shoes. I would like to think the world sympathizes with me.

    But as I said, context is everything. I wish I had a chance to ask him about what he thinks of IRI’s human right records, and whether he sees any linkage between people’s suffering and IRI policies.

    “I’m a software developer…”

    That doesn’t tell me anything about him and what he thinks of those suffering in jail, the dead bahais, and the rest of oppressed people of iran. Or what does he think of the elite having access to FB and ordinary people are banned from it, how does that have anything to do with sanctions.

    He doesn’t say why *he* thinks IRI is sanctioned. Or doesn’t see any connections??

    I’m not defending sanctions particularly, many of these sanctioned technologies could act as equalizers and help people. I’m just curious about the context of him “..writing for Medium…”

  3. Dear software developer,
    I will never forget during my last visit to Iran – during summer of 1978, while Shah was still in power – how tens of thousands of Iranians had taken to the streets of Tehran, yelling: “we are the followers of Islam; we do not want monarchy (ma peyrouyeh islamim; saltanat nemikhahim)”.
    Well, you got what you wanted (and I believe, deserved). Now, if you are so unhappy with the current situation in Iran, take to the streets again, and get rid of the real people who are causing you these miseries.
    You are paying for the sins of YOUR fathers. I remember it well that my father stopped me from joining the demonstrations that summer, despite my persistence. Thirty something years later, my father, myself and the rest of my family are still living happily on the greatest country on earth: The United States of America and I thank him every day.

  4. Stop complaining about what America is doing to the high tech industry in Iran and get off your backside and get rid of the mullahacracy

    You want your basiji pay cheque, your quota that lets you go to university over other more qualified candidates, your computer and access to everything in the west? Well first stop shouting death to America and then stop being the global moron. If America is the global arrogance, then IRI and the mullahacracy that you and your past generation have created, is the global laughing stock. In 21st century when America has sent a mission to Mars and when we have left the solar system, Iran is arguing under the mullahacracy on the merits and means to wiping ones ass in an islamic way.

    Get a hold of yourself. If America does not crush the regime, you and your generation will certainly not. Someone has to be for the good in the world and that is USA.

    You have no right to access Facebook or for that matter the high tech world that USA and their way of thinking and their way of life created. Unless off course you accept the wrongs of your regime, you deserve nothing

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