Iran protests: Musk uses Starlink against censorship

Elon Musk wants to open his satellite broadband service Starlink to the protesting population suffering from the Iranian government’s network blockade.

(Image: Anton Chernigovskii/Shutterstock.com)

Elon Musk announced on Twitter that he would also activate his Starlink satellite internet service for the protesting population in Iran. The head of SpaceX and Tesla is reacting to the blockade of important network services by the Iranian government that has been going on for days.

Musk’s announcement comes in direct response to a tweet from US Secretary of State Blinken. He wrote on Friday that the US has taken measures to promote the free flow of information for the Iranian people and improve access to digital communications. There was talk of a general license without specifying who it applies to.

When Elon Musk announced earlier this week that he would ask the US government for an exemption, she let it be known that supporting protesters was not a problem. Therefore, there is a good chance that the US government gave the green light for Starlink export to Iran. Technology transfers by US companies to Iran have so far been strictly forbidden and subject to sanctions.

The protests sparked the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini. The Iranian moral police had arrested Amini for violating headscarf rules. She died in custody. In the course of many protest marches, the Iranian government blocked several internet services such as WhatsApp and Instagram. The Internet has been under increasing control by the Iranian government for years.

Starlink provides Internet access largely independently of the network infrastructure at the receiving location. This works via numerous satellites circling the globe in a low orbit. During the Ukraine War, Starlink proved a valuable aid in defending against the Russian invaders. The Internet supply was always maintained, even in areas with destroyed infrastructure or under Russian control.

The Starlink fleet currently consists of over 2000 satellites, the number of which is increasing almost weekly. More than 30,000 satellites are supposed to bring the internet to every corner of the world. It is disputed to what extent this can help the current protests of the Iranian population in such a short time.

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