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December 14, 2009 

Congressman Moran Introduces Iranian Digital Empowerment Act

Today, Representative Jim Moran (D-VA) introduced in the U.S. Congress the Iranian Digital Empowerment Act ("IDEA Act") (H.R.4301), legislation that would clarify current sanctions law to provide the Iranian people access to information and the ability to communicate both internally and with the outside world in an effort to undermine censorship and monitoring efforts by the Iranian government.

The bill is intended to permit Twitter, Facebook and other types of instant messaging services to be used in Iran.

“Due to our outdated laws governing information sharing, U.S. sanctions have had the unintended consequence of denying the Iranian people the tools necessary to advance democracy,” said the Congressman. “This is a classic case of the law lagging behind the pace of technology. Given the tectonic shifts in Iranian society following the fraudulent national elections and emboldened democracy movement that rose from it, we need to move fast to make these sanctions smarter and more relevant to current technology.”

The IDEA Act is intended to clarify the intent of current sanctions law and enable the Iranian people to bypass the Iranian government’s online spying and censorship. The bill authorizes the provision of certain software and related services to Iran, specifically:
  • Software and related services that allow private Iranian citizens to circumvent online censorship and monitoring efforts imposed by the Government of Iran; and
  • Software and related services that enable personal communication by the Iranian people.
Representatives Bob Inglis (R-SC) and Bill Delahunt (D-MA) are original sponsors of the bill.

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