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Obama Bets Computers, Sat Phones and Crypto Software Will Make Iran’s Elections More Democratic

An Iranian cleric arrives at the election headquarters of interior ministry to register his candidacy for the upcoming presidential election.

An Iranian cleric arrives at the election headquarters of interior ministry to register his candidacy for the upcoming presidential election. // Vahid Salemi/AP

Some view the funneling of weapons to Syrian rebels as a check on Iran’s bad behavior. The Obama administration is skipping a proxy war of munitions and missiles in favor of a more devastating strike: sending iPads and anti-virus software directly to Tehran.

The US government did an abrupt about-face today, announcing that it would allow American companies to sell laptops, cell phones and software in Iran. The move is an attempt to ensure that Iranians have a chance to communicate among themselves—and with the world—before and after the country’s June 14th presidential election.

It’s not the first time the US has injected digital communications into a diplomatic dispute. During demonstrations disputing the outcome of Iran’s last election in 2009, the State Department asked Twitter to delay a scheduled maintenance downtime, so that the micro-blogging service used by the country’s “green movement” activists would remain functional. Lifting export restrictions is a more direct attempt to influence Iranian democracy.

Read more at Quartz

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