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  1. #1
    WHT-BR Top Member
    Data de Ingresso
    Dec 2010

    [EN] IBM SoftLayer Blocks Services in Iran as US Lifts Sanctions

    Nicole Henderson
    February 11, 2016

    IBM’s SoftLayer services are not available in Iran as the cloud giant has blocked all IPs coming from the country, according to a report by VentureBeat on Wednesday. The ban has impacted SoftLayer customers including Café Bazaar, an app store in Iran, and Elex-Tech, the developer of the Clash of Kings game.

    The blocking measures support IBM’s compliance process for foreign countries, according to the report. IBM blocks services in countries that don’t comply with standard procedures, and will unblock services if the content is not banned under US trade and economic sanctions.

    Martin Blanc of Bidness Etc. notes that “the discontinuation of service doesn’t make much sense as sanctions have already been lifted from the country.” After the sanctions lifted in January 2016, Microsoft resumed email services in Iran while Apple and Lenovo are among US technology companies exploring a possible return to the Iranian market, according to a report by the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. Docker is also looking into resuming services in Iran.

    “US sanctions on Iran have drawn harsh criticism over the years. But sanctions have intensified under five presidents, indicating a broad bipartisan consensus that sanctions, for all their faults, are an important part of the US policy mix towards Iran,” Patrick Clawson, director of research at the Washington Institute of Near Easy Policy, where he directs the Iran Security Initiative, said in The Iran Primer.

    Experts said the removal of sanctions will have a positive impact on Iranian internet users, including the immediate benefit of being able to access security international SSL certificates, according to a report by the Campaign.

    Iranians were previously blocked from purchasing international SSL certificates because of financial sanctions, and the national SSL certificates available allowed state authorities to decrypt the connection.

    Iranians will also be able to purchase hosting services from companies based out of the country, which will disallow state authorities from gaining access to user accounts, something that was permitted with domestic hosting companies.

    The lifted sanctions should also enable more investment in the country’s telecommunications infrastructure, which is in dire need of modernization, and activists hope lead to improved Internet speeds.

  2. #2
    WHT-BR Top Member
    Data de Ingresso
    Dec 2010

    IBM’s SoftLayer has quietly blocked users in Iran

    Amir-Esmaeil Bozorgzadeh
    February 10, 2016 8:15 PM

    IBM’s SoftLayer, which provides server hosting and cloud infrastructure around the world, has blocked all IPs coming from Iran. The service, which competes with cloud services from Amazon and Google, has a large base of user organizations, meaning that a number of SoftLayer-hosted apps and services will no longer be able to reach users in Iran.

    “To my knowledge, this is the first time a hosting company has blocked Iran, and it affects a wide array of reputable websites and apps,” said Hessam Armandehi, CEO of Cafe Bazaar, Iran’s leading app store, who first alerted me to the problem.

    The block was only noticed in the last few days, but IBM made no official announcement. So far, there has been little outcry from the affected communities — possibly because, while troubled, developers are wary about voicing complaints since they rely on a relationship with SoftLayer in other markets they serve.

    IBM SoftLayer has confirmed to VentureBeat that it put the new blocking measures into place, saying it is “proactively adopting this recognized cloud industry best practice to supplement its existing export compliance processes.” The company does indicate on its web site, however, that blocks will be lifted on a case by case basis “if you believe your content is not prohibited under U.S. trade and economic sanctions.”

    Despite the recent lifting of sanctions against Iran, the company’s blocking guidelines state: “SoftLayer implements network-wide blocking of IP addresses that originate from countries that are subject to U.S. trade and economic sanctions.” So the question is, why have they enacted this only now? Maybe the IT guy missed it years ago when it would have made sense.

    To makes things worse for the likes of app stores like Cafe Bazaar that make most of their profits from mobile games, the hosting giant positioned itself back in 2013 as the most secure and sophisticated platform for global game developers. “The ability to add tens of thousands of users overnight is the value of working with SoftLayer,” said Safa Sofuoglu, CTO of Peak Games at the time, a leading regional games company in Turkey and the Middle East/North Africa region.

    Some of the most popular games in Iran, like Clash of Kings by Elex-Tech, have been affected, which means a disruption of substantial streams of revenue because players aren’t able to connect. No doubt this is causing a frenzy amongst developers who will need to maneuver their services and platforms back into safe waters, if they can.

    For global publishers who are already publishing in Iran or were thinking of doing so, this block creates an additional barrier that sets the market back in terms of attractiveness and indefinitely so. The taboo of officially going live in Iran had decreased in the wake of all the news of sanctions being lifted, but this move by SoftLayer could raise it right back up, which will be a blow to digital business in Iran.

    On another front, the user experience on the part of Iranians is being made more complicated as a result. They have trouble enough with Internet blocks put up by their own government. Now they have a major foreign hosting company blocking their exposure to cyberspace as well.

    If SoftLayer doesn’t lift the block, one thing is for sure: VPN usage in Iran is about to spike!

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