On September 23, 2022, the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) issued a revised Iran General License (GL) D-2 which authorizes the export, reexport by U.S. persons to Iran of certain services, software and hardware incident to communication. The purpose of the revised GL is to bring this OFAC Iranian guidance in line with the changes in modern technology since the issuance of Iran GL D-1 in 2014. OFAC announced that these changes are also, in part, due to the Iranian government’s recent restrictions and removing access to its citizens to the Internet. As a result, the United States “is taking action to support the free flow of information and access to fact-based information to the Iranian people. The updated guidance will authorize technology companies to offer the Iranian people with more options of secure, outside platforms and services.”
The expanded GL D-2 covers in its scope the following key issues:
- Removes the requirement that the scope of the GL is limited to and verified as for communications that are “personal” in nature, in line with similar licenses in other OFAC programs. Where the more restrictive term “exchange of personal communications” previously existed in this GL, it has generally be replaced with the term “exchange of communications”.
- For both fee-based or no-cost services and software, adds further technology to cover social media platforms, collaboration platforms, video conferencing, as well as cloud-based services in support of such services, as well as tools that incorporate communication functions and are often included with authorized items or services (e.g., online maps, e-gaming, e-learning platforms, automated translation, web maps, and user authentication services). Note: The previous version of this GL covered only instant messaging, chat and email, social networking, sharing of photos and movies, web browsing, and blogging.
- For Internet connectivity serves and telecommunications capacity, removes the term “consumer-grade Intemet connectivity services” and replaces it with “non-commercial-grade Internet connectivity services, to include cloud-based services” in order to assist Iranians “in resisting repressive internet censorship and surveillance tools deployed by the Iranian regime.”
- Under the section for specific licensing policy continues to note that OFAC license will be considered on a case-by-case basis, but clarifies that this includes activities “to support internet freedom in Iran, including development and hosting of anti-surveillance software by Iranian developers” in order to allow such developers to create “homegrown anti-surveillance and anti-censorship apps, which many Iranian people rely upon to circumvent domestic internet controls.”
OFAC also issued several new Iranian FAQs to assist in determining the scope and applicability of “cloud-based” services and software.
The categories in the Annex to GL D-2 have not changed and continue to cover the export, reexport or provision of certain services to Iran for mobile and satellite phones; consumer modems, routers, switches and related electronics; residential consumer satellite terminals and related equipment; laptops tablets and other personal computing devices and peripherals; anti-virus and anti-malware software; anti-tracking software; mobile operating systems and related software; anti-censorship tools and related software; Virtual Private Network (VPN) client software; and related software. Separately, OFAC stated that in order to support Internet freedom in Iran, persons seeking to export items to Iran or conduct other activities in support of Internet freedom in Iran that are not authorized by GL D-2 or other authorizations “are encouraged to submit a specific license application to OFAC.”