US blocking Iranian IP addresses

Dear All, (especially those of you joining us from the U.S. State Dept. and Office of Foreign Assets Control, OFAC),

As you know, the Iranian government filters certain websites resulting in hardship to the Iranian people. What you don’t know is that the American government does something similar which not only causes hardship to the Iranian people but to the American people, at least to me.

Software companies such as Microsoft, Google and many others such as phone manufacturers offer free downloads of their products or components of their products. Unfortunately, when users from Iran try to initiate a download, the company’s website detects that they are in Iran and kicks them in the face and tells them they are not allowed to download the product because they are in Iran.

Now, for the people working in the Iranian government who have high-speed access, VPN capability, ability to use proxies to disguise their IP address and the desire to “outsmart” the US government, it is no problem to circumvent this hurdle and in addition, it may even provide some entertainment/satisfaction in the process. However, to the average Iranian, even those who can somehow, with perseverance, download the product, it is a source of offense. (If you have not felt the sting of someone kicking you in the face due to your country of origin, trust me, it’s not fun.)

Now, who cares about the Iranian people? No one, ok, fine. But the fact is, I do! I need them! I need their help. Since the deliberate, final destruction of our American Persian departments after 9/11, I have come to depend on them to learn Persian and the most significant part of my “project” has been the development and prevention of abuse of technology, specifically in Persian computing. Escaping the persecution, we American students have been forced to pack up our Persian and take it to the nooks and crannies of the virtual universe. Many normal Iranian citizens have been acting as my Persian teachers since well before 9/11. It is their patient help which has brought us not only Persian instructional materials but also basic tools such as fonts and keyboards which we all need. Persian cannot afford these destructive policies.

I hope you will please consider lifting the ban on Iranian IP addresses as soon as possible. If the idea was to hurt the Iranian government, it has backfired. You are helping the Iranian government (and thank goodness the Iranian government does not retaliate and impose sanctions on us!) and you are hurting American citizens.

Connie Bobroff
Persian Linguist

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