Iran gets access to Google Earth, Picasa and Chrome

The Treasury Department relaxed sanctions against Iran in March 2010 to help increase the use of web services and support opposition groups.

"We're committed to full compliance with US export controls and sanctions programs and, as a condition of our export licenses from the Treasury Department, we will continue to block IP addresses associated with the Iranian government," Neil Martin, Google's export compliance programs manager, wrote in a blog post.

"We believe that more available products means more choice, more freedom, and ultimately more power for individuals in Iran and across the globe," he added.

During the clampdown on media by the Iranian authorities in June 2009 to suppress protest over the presidential election, the sharing of information using the internet prevailed, Martin noted.

Twitter and Google's YouTube were cited by journalists, activists and bloggers as the best source for first-hand accounts and on-the-scene footage of the protests and violence across the country, he said.

Scott Rubin, Google's head of public policy, said Google Earth enables anyone to create a layer to show exactly what is going on, and having Chrome will be beneficial, according to BBC reports.

In a country with a history of government surveillance it is useful having a browser that cannot easily be hacked, he said, but there was "no guarantee" that the government would not block services.

This story was first published by Computer Weekly

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