Hillicon Valley – US aims to develop Iran’s internet


The Biden administration eased some sanctions against Iran in an effort to increase internet access for the Iranian people amid the protests.

Meanwhile, a new report says calls for violence are on the rise on the incel movement’s largest online forum.

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Reversal of Restrictions

The Treasury Department on Friday announced exemptions to Iran sanctions to allow companies to provide more online services in the country after the Iranian government cut off internet access for much of the country amid protests.

The administration allowed tech companies to offer the Iranian people more options for secure, off-the-shelf platforms and services, the department said in an announcement.

The update seeks to modernize existing sanctions exemptions to provide internet access for companies by adding exemptions for social media platforms, video conferencing services and cloud-based services.

  • “With these changes, we are helping the people of Iran better equip themselves against government efforts to monitor and censor them,” said Treasury Undersecretary Valli Adeyemo.
  • Adeyemo added that the department will continue to issue guidelines to support the free flow of information in Iran in the coming weeks.
  • The Biden administration’s update comes after the Iranian government cut off the internet for most of its citizens after violently suppressing peaceful protests in the country. The protests were sparked by the death of a 22-year-old woman named Mahsa Amini in police custody.

Read more here.

The ‘Incel’ movement raises calls for violence

Incel, the movement’s largest online forum, reported an increase in calls for violence on Friday.

After analyzing more than 1 million posts from January 2021 to July 2022, the Center Against Digital Hate found a 59 percent increase in the use of terms and code words related to acts of mass violence on the incel forum.

  • The term “incel” was coined as shorthand for “voluntary celibacy,” but has come to refer to a predominantly male movement that promotes hatred and violence against women and other groups.
  • The incel movement has been linked to dozens of deaths, including a 2014 massacre in Isla Vista, California that left six dead and 14 injured, the report said.

“Hateful” and “dehumanizing” language is at the heart of the movement, with 21 percent of all posts on the incel forum studied for Friday’s report featuring misogynistic, racist and homophobic language.

Read more here.

A ‘COMMITMENT RISK’

Former Twitter employee Anika Navaroli said the company’s tolerance of former President Trump led her to take an “extreme risk” to testify before the January 6 Committee, in an interview with The Washington Post.

“I understand that by being who I am and doing what I do, I put myself and my family at extreme risk,” Navaroli told the Post. “It’s terrible. It was one of the most isolated times of my life.”

On January 6, the Committee released testimony from a previously unidentified whistleblower in July, who told the committee for months that he had “begged and waited and tried to bring up the reality … if we didn’t do anything about what was going on, then people were going to die.”

“On January 5, I realized that no intervention had come and … and we were at the mercy of a violent mob locked and loaded,” Navaroli said.

Read more here.

BITS AND PIECES

An op-ed to chew on: How CHIPS and the Science Act can revolutionize US tech diversity

Notable links on the web:

The Most Dominant Toxic Election Stories Online (The New York Times / Cecilia Kang)

External audit says Facebook restricted Palestinian posts during Gaza war (The Washington Post / Elizabeth Dwoskin)

US vs. China: Race to Launch Next-Generation Space Telescope (The Wall Street Journal)

🎵 Lighter click: Friend reminder

One more thing: cryptocurrency threat assessment

The US military’s innovation office provides efforts to national security and law enforcement agencies to assess cryptocurrency threats, helping authorities prevent the illegal use of digital assets.

DARPA program manager Mark Flood told the Washington Post that “the program here involves mapping the cryptocurrency universe in some detail.”

He continued: “We simply must recognize that the financial sector may be an integral part of modern warfare going forward, and that anything we can do to strengthen and protect the US financial sector and the financial sectors of our allies is beneficial.”

Read more here.

So far, thanks for reading. For the latest news and coverage, check out The Hill’s Technology and Cybersecurity pages. See you next week.

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