Elon Musk 'activating Starlink' after US eases Iranian internet sanctions

SpaceX founder says broadband service is meant 'for peaceful purposes only'

SpaceX founder Elon Musk said earlier that Starlink would seek an exemption from US internet sanctions on Iran. AP
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SpaceX founder Elon Musk tweeted that he was activating his broadband service Starlink after the US Treasury Department announced it was easing internet sanctions on Iran after Tehran curtailed its citizens' access to social media.

The Treasury's move means that American technology companies can expand their businesses in Iran, allowing people living there to use secure platforms and services.

The updated guidance authorises the companies to offer access to social media platforms, cloud-based services and online maps.

Lifting the restrictions is aimed at bypassing Iranian censorship and surveillance efforts after more than 80 million people were cut off from WhatsApp and Instagram.

Protests have erupted across the country over the death of Mahsa Amini, who died last week while in the custody of Iran's morality police for allegedly not covering her hair properly.

“In the face of these steps, we are going to help make sure the Iranian people are not kept isolated and in the dark,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said a statement.

In a response to a tweeted-out version of Mr Blinken's statement, Mr Musk said: “Activating Starlink …”

Mr Musk's Starlink system is not covered under the updated guidance, so the world's richest man would still need to seek an exemption to use his constellation satellites to beam data into Iran because of the specifics of the project, the Treasury Department said.

He has said he will seek an exemption to sanctions so Iranians can gain access to his company's technology.

The Tesla founder had indicated earlier this week that his company would seek an exemption from sanctions on Iran to provide service to the country.

Starlink is a satellite constellation system that uses low-orbit satellites to provide high-speed internet services to remote and rural locations.

Users who sign up for the service receive a kit that contains a Starlink satellite dish, a Wi-Fi router and cable.

Mr Musk on September 18 said that Starlink was now available on all seven continents.

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Updated: September 23, 2022, 9:57 PM