The United States has issued sanctions targeting Iranian technology firm Arvan Cloud, two executives and an affiliated company for their roles in helping the Islamic Republic censor the Internet in the country.
The Treasury Department made the announcement on June 2, saying in a statement that “Arvan Cloud has a close relationship with Iran’s intelligence services, including the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS), and Arvan Cloud executives have extensive ties to senior Iranian government officials.”
“The Iranian government has regularly used Internet restrictions and the throttling of Internet speeds to suppress dissent, surveil and punish Iranians for exercising their freedom of expression and assembly both online and offline," the statement said.
The individuals targeted, Pouya Pirhosseinloo and Farhad Fatemi, “are the co-founders of Arvan Cloud and serve as the CEO and the tech lead and senior site reliability engineer, respectively,” the Treasury said.
The sanctions also targeted ArvanCloud Global Technologies L.L.C., an affiliate based in the United Arab Emirates.
In November, the European Union imposed sanctions on Arvan Cloud, saying it was “involved in censorship and efforts of the Iranian government to shut down the internet.”
The EU move came amid a bloody crackdown by security forces on nationwide protests demanding fundamental economic, social and political changes.
Known for its harsh Internet censorship, which includes banning thousands of websites, the Islamic Republic to a large scale shut down the internet for most Iranians.
The authorities cut off mobile data, disrupted social media platforms, slowed Internet services and blocked individual users, among other things, in order to prevent people from accessing and disseminating information online and from communicating safely.