Some U.S. export controls and sanctions programs, which prohibited software downloads to Iran have now been lifted, and Google has announced that it is making Google Earth, Picasa, and Chrome available for download in that country.
The company says it is committed to full compliance with the exports controls and sanctions programs, and that as a condition of Google's export licenses from the Treasury Department, the company will continue to block IP addresses associated with the Iranian government.
"During the protests that erupted in Iran following the disputed Presidential election in June 2009, the central government in Tehran deported all foreign journalists, shut down traditional media outlets, closed off print journalism and disrupted cell phone lines," said Google's Export Compliance Program Manager, Neil Martin. "The government also infiltrated networks, posing as activists and using false identities to round up dissidents. In spite of this, the sharing of information using the Internet prevailed. YouTube and Twitter were cited by journalists, activists and bloggers as the best source for firsthand accounts and on-the-scene footage of the protests and violence across the country. At the time, though, U.S. export controls and sanctions programs prohibited software downloads to Iran."
"Our products are specifically designed to help people create, communicate, share opinions and find information," Martin added. "And we believe that more available products means more choice, more freedom, and ultimately more power for individuals in Iran and across the globe."
Last year, the New York Times reported that the U.S. began allowing tech companies to export online services like instant messaging, chat, and photo sharing to Iran (as well as Cuba and Sudan).