Elon Musk to activate Starlink in Iran amid internet shutdown

by Shumail Ali
Published: Last Updated on

Elon Musk, the chief executive officer of SpaceX, has been given the go-ahead by the United States government to activate the satellite internet service Starlink to assist Iranians who are participating in demonstrations in response to the death of a woman who was held in police custody.

Elon Musk to activate Starlink in Iran amid internet shutdown

Significant internet outages were reported across the country on Saturday, affecting one of the largest mobile phone carriers. This caused millions of Iranians to be unable to access the internet. Access to social media and some types of content is severely limited in Iran.

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Friday, the US government announced guidelines to increase internet access for Iranians despite sanctions imposed by the US in response to the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program.

“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,” a US official was quoted as saying by Reuters.

The United States Department of Defense clarified afterward that “anyone who fits the criteria described in this general license can proceed with their actions without asking extra approval.”

On the other hand, he stated on Monday that the company intended to provide Iranians with the Starlink satellite broadband service and that it would apply for an exception to the sanctions. Ukraine had previously received this service to assist it in its struggle against Russia’s invasion of the country.

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Residents of Iran and an organization that monitors the internet called NetBlocks have reported that access to the messaging apps Instagram and WhatsApp has been blocked in the country as a direct result of the protests.

According to Azadeh Akbari of the University of Twente, the Iranian government’s current internet filtering practices are “a continuation of decades of internet filtering by the Iranian government.”

On the other hand, attempts to contact Elon Musk for comment on Starlink’s permission to operate in Iran were unsuccessful.

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