US Government Report on Iran Sanctions, Communications Technology

Friday, 01 July 2011 00:00

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) published a report that it recently completed for the U.S. Congress outlining the steps taken by federal agencies to develop procedures for a procurement ban against companies that sell Iran technology to disrupt communications.

According to the GAO, as of June 24, 2011, "the U.S. government had identified no entities subject to this ban. Moreover, based on our review of credible open source information, we did not identify any firms that export technologies to the Iranian government for monitoring, filtering, and disrupting information and communications flows. There are several possible reasons for the difficulty in identifying any such firms, including (1) the competitive and proprietary nature of the communication industry limits information, if any, reported in open sources and (2) the lack of a clear distinction between technology exported to Iran to disrupt the free flow of information versus technology exported to Iran to support necessary and acceptable filtering and monitoring of communication. In addition, Iran's growing capacity to develop its own monitoring, filtering, and disrupting technology suggests it is relying less on non-Iranian technology to monitor and filter internal communications.

The Congress directed the GAO to "review issues related to Iran's monitoring, filtering, and disruption of information and communications flows in two mandates: (1) Section 106 of the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010 (CISADA) requires us to review a procurement ban against entities that export technologies to the Iranian government for monitoring, filtering, and disrupting informationandcommunicationsflows, and (2) Senate Report 111-201 related to the Ike Skelton National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011 directs us to identify entities that have a financial interest in the development of Iran's ability to monitor, filter, and disrupt information and communication flows and determine which entities have contracts with the U.S. government."

The report is available for dowload here.