Since a few days ago, Washington is permitting U.S. firms in Iran to sell computers, mobile telephones and software for personal use. Consequently, the people can get easier access to the Internet.

Freedom of expression is a human right. The U.S. has now perhaps unpacked the strongest weapon that exists in these times: It is facilitating ease of access to the Internet and therefore the ability to communicate.

Since a few days ago, Washington is allowing U.S. firms in Iran to sell computers, mobile telephones and software for personal use. Consequently the iPhone will be legally available there for the first time. Until now it was forbidden by a trade embargo that was implemented in 1992. The goal of the embargo was actually to hinder the development of nuclear weapons. However, the effect was that citizens could only buy modern communications technology illegally on the black market. Iranians may have wondered whether this sanction was directed against the government or against the population.

Anti-Virus Software Against Government Surveillance

This clear step is all the more important now. It will provide the Iranian population with access to online services like email, chat programs and social networks from the outside. Additionally, citizens can now buy anti-virus and other protection software to defend against government surveillance.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of State said this would provide the Iranian people with “safer, more sophisticated” communications technology to facilitate communication “with each other and with the outside world.” The goal is the “free flow of information” that the government in Tehran has tried to suppress. It is probably not a coincidence that this decision was made about two weeks before the presidential election.

On June 14, Iranians will elect a successor to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is not permitted to run again after two terms in office. Among the eight authorized candidates are five ultraconservatives, two politicians considered moderate and only one reformer.

June 14 Election

In the election four years ago, millions of people demonstrated against the re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and organized themselves via social networks: We remember the Green movement that drew solidarity worldwide.

In the suppression of protests at the time, many people were killed and thousands of opposition members were arrested. There is a proverb known [in Germany] and in America: The pen is mightier than the sword. Perhaps the posting is stronger than the sanction?