US sanctions restrictions have traditionally exempted exchanges of information and informational materials. However, because the prohibitions on exports of software and services are sufficiently broad to cover the use of Internet-based communication methods and related software, the provision of many new communications platforms to customers in sanctioned countries remains prohibited. In recent years, the US government has worked to balance its economic sanctions regime with its desire to foster the free flow of information to and from persons in countries subject to comprehensive US sanctions.
In 2010, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) introduced general licenses authorizing provision of certain services and software incident to Internet based communications. To qualify for these general licenses, however, such services and software must be publicly available at no cost to the user.
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