President Obama signed an executive order Sunday that would impose sanctions on people who provide technology to help the Syrian and Iranian governments carry out human rights abuses.
Obama announced the order Monday at a Holocaust remembrance ceremony, where he said the order would stop those who help oppressive regimes “monitor and track citizens for violence.”
Mobile technologies have helped cultivate the Arab Spring, where citizens have launched protests using social media to help with organizing demonstrations. But Iran and Syria, as well as others, have also used technology as a way to stop citizen uprisings by tracking them or shutting down access to the Internet.
“These technologies should be in place to empower citizens, not to oppress them,” Obama said Monday.
The order uses sanctions and a visa ban to target people who have or sold or helped implement technology to the Iranian and Syrian governments that facilitates computer or network disruption, monitoring or tracking to enable human rights abuses.
Obama was introduced at the remembrance ceremony by Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel. He talked about preventing mass atrocities and his administration’s efforts in Libya and against African warlord Joseph Kony.