A senior White House official asked US tech company Cloudflare to help circumvent internet censorship in Iran after protests erupted in that country last September but US sanctions prevented the firm from doing so, Cloudflare CEO Mathew Prince said Thursday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
“I got a call from a senior official in the White House who said, ‘Can you do in Iran what you’re doing in Russia?’” said Prince, whose company makes software that protects users from cyberattacks and allows activists in authoritarian regimes to bypass censorship, during a panel discussion on security and technology. “And I said, ‘No.’ And [they] said, ‘Why not?’ And I said, ‘Because sanctions prevented us from ever putting our equipment in Iran.’”
The Iranian government moved to block internet access as hundreds of protesters were killed in clashes with Iran’s security forces last fall, according to human rights activists.
The anecdote underscores the prominent role that large tech firms can play in US foreign policy….