Wednesday , 12 June 2024

Iranint Exclusive: Iran’s Censoring Tech Firm To Be Removed From EU Sanctions

iranintl – The European Union is set to remove ArvanCloud from its list of human rights sanctions, according to a source close to European diplomats. The firm was sanctioned in 2022 for its role in Iran’s Internet censorship.

Following this action, ArvanCloud filed a complaint with the European Court of Justice and simultaneously pressured European governments through political channels to revoke this decision.

At the same time, ArvanCloud announced the termination of its contract with the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

A source close to European authorities informed Iran International that ArvanCloud’s overseas supporters claimed to have played a significant role in providing millions of Iranian citizens with access to a free internet during the Woman, Life Freedom protests in 2022-2023. This claim appears to be one of the reasons for the EU’s decision to lift sanctions on ArvanCloud.

Iran has been blocking tens of thousands of websites since 2002, and as social media emerged, it began also blocking platforms such as Facebook, Twitter (X) and You Tube. Traditional media is also heavily censored, as are books and films, both from the perspective of Islamic beliefs and political content.

The European Union and ArvanCloud have not responded to Iran International’s request for clarification about this information at the time of publication.

The European Union annually reviews its list of individuals and entities violating human rights in Iran and decides whether to renew the sanctions or not. The outcome of this decision is announced in the official EU newspaper one or two days later.

In June 2023, the US Treasury Department labeled ArvanCloud as a key partner of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology of the Islamic Republic of Iran in developing the national information network and disconnecting Iranians from the global internet, based on which, two founders of this company were sanctioned along with one of its branches in the UAE.

A source close to decision makers in the EU told Iran International: “The ‘Anonymous’ hacking group previously exposed documents from the Islamic Republic’s internet filtering committee server, showing that ArvanCloud had blocked various websites at the committee’s request.”

In one case, ArvanCloud officials went beyond the given orders and not only blocked a website but also its server’s IP address.

Documents released by Nariman Gharib, an internet researcher, in 2022 also showed that Issa Zarepour, the Minister of Communications, had asked President Ebrahim Raisi to take action through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in cooperation with the European countries to remove ArvanCloud from the sanctions list.

In the same letter, Raisi was asked to agree that law firms associated with the embassies of the Islamic Republic undertake the defense of ArvanCloud at the government’s expense.

ArvanCloud controls 49% of Iran’s cloud space market and continues to host many of the Islamic Republic’s most important websites, including the Presidency, IRNA news agency, and the Ministry of Islamic Guidance.

One of the information centers of this company is installed at Payam Airport, belonging to the Ministry of Communications.