Access joined EFF, Global Voices Advocacy, New America’s Open Technology Institute, and Ferrari & Associates, P.C. in a letter calling for the OFAC—the agency charged with enforcing the sanctions—to issue a general license that would protect internet users.
The Crimea sanctions require American technology firms, including Google, to stop updating software, to terminate small business applications, to shut down web hosting accounts, and to deny other services to users they believe are located in the affected region. Journalists, human rights defenders, and ordinary people living in Crimea – or even just traveling there – depend on a variety of information services, software, and hardware that are covered by these sanctions. The sanctions add barriers for information technology, drastically impacting free expression and privacy, and only contribute to the isolation and instability in the region. Not only are basic personal communications tools such as email and cryptography software impacted, but Google has stopped updating its popular Chrome browser in the region. This means that computer security is threatened by the blocking.