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Wednesday, 8th January 2014

Translating Norms to the Digital Age: Technology and the Free Flow of Information under U.S. Sanctions

Source: New America Foundation

From Executive Summary:

The role of communications technology in enabling access to information, free expression, and political dialogue has changed dramatically since most U.S. sanctions were first imposed. The 2009 Iranian Green Movement and the Arab Spring revolutions were powerful examples of this new technological reality. Yet U.S. sanctions remain outdated in recognizing these developments that enhance the free flow of information. Sanctions regulations in some cases effectively aid repressive regimes that seek to control access to information within their borders, with negative consequences on the civilian population. For example, after Google unblocked the Google Play store in August 2013 following legal clarification through a general license, reports surfaced that the Iranian government had begun blocking access to the store inside Iran—an indication that U.S. sanctions may have inadvertently been doing the censorship work for the Iranian government until that point.

Five countries are currently subject to comprehensive U.S. sanctions—Iran, Syria, Cuba, Sudan, and North Korea—and are the focus of this paper. They are part of the broader sanctions system that the United States has put in place to advance its foreign policy goals, using trade restrictions as an instrument to exercise pressure on foreign governments.

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Having begun his career in academic libraries, Adrian Janes has subsequently worked extensively in public libraries, chiefly in enquiry work as an Information Services librarian. In this role he has had particular responsibility for information from both the UK Government and the European Union. He wrote a detailed report on sources for the latter which was published by FreePint in 2007, and has contributed articles to FreePint and ResourceShelf. He is involved in training in information literacy and the use of online reference resources.

A Contributing Editor to DocuTicker, he also write reviews for Pennyblackmusic.

Adrian can be reached at adrian.janes@freepint.com

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