Elon Musk says SpaceX will activate Starlink satellite internet service in Iran following a tweet from the U.S. Secretary of State Andrew Blinkin who said the country has taken steps “to advance internet freedom and the free flow of information” in Iran.
That action was “issuing a General License to provide them with greater access to digital communications to counter the Iranian government’s censorship.
Activating Starlink …
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 23, 2022
Accordingly the U.S. Treasury Department expanded the internet services available in Iran despite US sanctions.
However, it may not be as simple as that. According to a Treasury official, Starlink might not fall into those expanded services as Starlink equipment is considered “commercial grade.”
“Our understanding of Starlink is that what they provide would be commercial grade, and it would be hardware that’s not covered in the general license; so that would be something they would need to write into Treasury for,” the official said. (via Reuters)
If Starlink equipment is not considered commercial grade then the company can proceed with no further permissions required.
“Anyone who meets the criteria outlined in this general license can proceed with their activities without requesting additional permissions,” a second official said.
The Iranian government’s censorship has come into focus over the past week following the death of 22 year old Mahsa Amini in custody for wearing “unsuitable attire.”
After the government shut down internet access in parts of the country, Musk said he would seek an exemption from international sanctions to provide Starlink service in Iran.
That idea was supported by several US lawmakers.