US tech companies should push to remove sanctions on Sudan

21 February 2020

Internet

Last year, Sudanese citizens deposed a totalitarian regime that had ruled for more than 30 years. For the participants in the peaceful protests, social media platforms were key tools for organizing and communicating their message to the outside world. These platforms, produced by US companies, have played a crucial role in boosting the Sudanese economy, which is starting to rely on the internet for its growth. Indeed, US tech companies have a strong interest in pushing for the removal of US sanctions on Sudan.

In October 1997, the U.S. imposed economic sanctions on Sudan. U.S. Executive Order 13067 prohibits transactions with the Sudanese government. According to the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), the rationale behind this decision is that the Sudanese government’s “continued support for international terrorism, ongoing efforts to destabilize neighboring governments, and the prevalence of human rights violations, including slavery and the denial of religious freedom, constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States”. Needless to say, the revolution invalidates most of these conditions.

Sudanese civil society has pushed hard against digital and technological sanctions. In 2014, as a result of long advocacy efforts supported by American tech rights groups such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation, some of the sanctions were relaxed with the issuing of the General licence D — a step welcomed by many Sudanese, and which had a very positive impact on the Sudanese tech sector. Read the full article on Global Voices here.