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IBM SoftLayer Blocks Services in Iran as US Lifts Sanctions
A young woman walks past the IBM logo at the 2009 CeBIT technology trade fair in Hanover, Germany. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

IBM SoftLayer Blocks Services in Iran as US Lifts Sanctions

Many major tech companies have pulled out of Iran, but some have been returning

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IBM’s SoftLayer services are not available in Iran as the cloud giant has blocked all IPs coming from the country, according to a report by VentureBeat on Wednesday. The ban has impacted SoftLayer customers including Café Bazaar, an app store in Iran, and Elex-Tech, the developer of the Clash of Kings game.

The blocking measures support IBM’s compliance process for foreign countries, according to the report. IBM blocks services in countries that don’t comply with standard procedures, and will unblock services if the content is not banned under US trade and economic sanctions.

Martin Blanc of Bidness Etc. notes that “the discontinuation of service doesn’t make much sense as sanctions have already been lifted from the country.” After the sanctions lifted in January 2016, Microsoft resumed email services in Iran while Apple and Lenovo are among US technology companies exploring a possible return to the Iranian market, according to a report by the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. Docker is also looking into resuming services in Iran.

“US sanctions on Iran have drawn harsh criticism over the years. But sanctions have intensified under five presidents, indicating a broad bipartisan consensus that sanctions, for all their faults, are an important part of the US policy mix towards Iran,” Patrick Clawson, director of research at the Washington Institute of Near Easy Policy, where he directs the Iran Security Initiative, said in The Iran Primer.

Experts said the removal of sanctions will have a positive impact on Iranian internet users, including the immediate benefit of being able to access security international SSL certificates, according to a report by the Campaign.

Iranians were previously blocked from purchasing international SSL certificates because of financial sanctions, and the national SSL certificates available allowed state authorities to decrypt the connection.

Iranians will also be able to purchase hosting services from companies based out of the country, which will disallow state authorities from gaining access to user accounts, something that was permitted with domestic hosting companies.

The lifted sanctions should also enable more investment in the country’s telecommunications infrastructure, which is in dire need of modernization, and activists hope lead to improved Internet speeds.

The WHIR has reached out to IBM SoftLayer for comment.

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