WASHINGTON (JTA) — An executive order by President Obama sanctions companies and individuals that provide telecommunications technology to Iran and Syria that is used to carry out human rights abuses.
The order, which Obama announced during his speech to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum on Monday, immediately places sanctions on companies and foreign nationals that assist the governments of Iran and Syria by providing them with certain cell phone tracking and Internet monitoring technologies in order to crack down on dissent in their countries.
It underlines the role of social media in the uprisings occurring in Syria and prevents the silencing of citizens who are utilizing social media platforms to notify the outside world of the events occurring in Syria.
"These technologies should be in place to empower citizens, not to repress them," Obama said in his remarks.
In Congress, U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) is pushing for an amendment to the Iran Sanctions, Accountability and Human Rights Act of 2012, while Reps. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) and Robert Dold (R-Ill.) are working toward similar provisions in the House that would sanction companies for their roles in human rights abuses.