November 29, 2022

Volume XII, Number 333


November 28, 2022

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Technology to Iran: OFAC Lifts Certain Iran Sanctions In Response to Protests in Iran

After Mahsa Amini was killed in the custody of “Gasht-e-Ershad” or Iran’s Guidance Patrol, commonly referred to as Iran’s morality police, following an arrest for placement of her hijab, protests have erupted throughout Iran over women’s rights and Iran’s authoritarian regime more generally. Iran’s police and other security forces are retaliating severely against protestors. In response to these human rights abuses, on September 22, the U.S. Department of Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned Iran’s morality police and senior leaders of Iran’s security organizations for the violence against protesters.

As protests spread, the Iranian government has also shut down the internet in an attempt to curb uprising. To address the internet restrictions, on September 23, OFAC updated General License D-2 on communications to increase support for internet freedom in Iran and provide the Iranian people with communication tools to exercise their ability to share information about what’s happening on the ground.

General License D-2 now clearly authorizes the export of fee-based or no-cost services for communications over the internet for instant messaging, social networking, web browsing, learning platforms, automated translation, web maps, video conferencing, social media platforms, user authentication services, and related communications cloud-based services to Iran. The license does not have an expiration date. Moreover, the related FAQs state that OFAC encourages persons to submit specific license applications for activities in support of internet freedom in Iran that are not authorized by General License D-2. In the FAQs, OFAC also clarifies its due diligence expectations for cloud-based or software service providers to evaluate end users when exporting to Iran.

The revisions to the general license facilitate the provision of communications tools to people in Iran. The revisions are intended to allow the Iranian people to develop and use anti-surveillance and anti-censorship technology. These revisions may substantially reduce the risk of certain technology, social media, cloud-based, and software company activities. For more information, please contact the authors.

Copyright © 2022, Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP.National Law Review, Volume XII, Number 270

About this Author

Reid Whitten, partner, Sheppard Mullin Law Firm

Reid Whitten works with clients around the world to plan, prepare, and succeed in global business transactions.

In the areas of U.S. and international sanctions, export and defense export controls, and anti-corruption regulations, he supports clients in detecting and deterring potential compliance issues as well as conducting and defending investigations and enforcements. Mr. Whitten also advises on anti-dumping, anti-money laundering, and anti-boycott regulations.

Mr. Whitten is a thought leader on cross-border business regulations. He teaches a seminar on The Law of...

Lisa C. Mays, Sheppard Mullin, Government Investigations Attorney, International Trade Lawyer

Lisa Mays is an associate in the Government Contracts, Investigations & International Trade Practice Group in the firm's Washington D.C. office.

  • J.D., The George Washington University Law School, 2015

  • B.A., University of Southern California, 2010

Fatema Merchant, international, trade, Lawyer, Sheppard Mullin

Fatema Merchant is an associate in the Government Contracts, Investigations & International Trade Practice Group in the firm's Washington, D.C. office.

Fatema’s practice focuses on investigations and compliance counseling related to international trade laws.  She has extensive experience with U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and U.S.-Sanctioned Countries investigations, compliance, due diligence, and training.  Fatema also advises clients on compliance with International Traffic in Arms Regulations, Export Administration Regulations, Customs and Anti-Money Laundering...

Julien Blanquart International Trade Lawyer Sheppard Mullin Law Firm

Julien Blanquart is an International Trade associate in the Government Contracts, Investigations & International Trade in the firm's Brussels and London offices.

Areas of Practice

Julien's practice focuses on compliance counseling, training and investigations in the areas of export controls, economic sanctions, anti-corruption (FCPA and Sapin II), customs, and foreign investment reviews (CFIUS).

Over the course of his education he has acquired the legal skills and experience to assist the International Trade team in matters involving EU, U.S., and...