The US government is forcing educational platforms such as Coursera to ban Iranian users. This act is contradictory with the US government policies to enhance the education of world’s citizens to solve its problems.
A little bit of background: This is not only about Coursera
This is not the first time that the US government is taking such actions to make trouble for Iranian people. Only a month ago, the US government forced Apple and Google to remove Iranian applications from their stores. Iran is a country of 80 million people and most of them are tech-savvy. There are 48 million smartphones and 47 million social media users in the country. It’s estimated that there are 7 million iPhones in the country (14.5% of Iran’s smartphone market). Currently, most of the Iranian e-commerce companies don’t know if they should leave behind their iOS app development. Even a recent study shows that out of Google’s 27 marketing and business services only 44 percent are accessible in Iran. Fortunately, Iran has a successful local version of Google Play so this won’t make any trouble, however, the rest of Google business tools are not accessible from Iran. Basically, most of the services or products from American companies or companies which have some ties to the US are banned for Iranian users.
The US is banning Iranians to access educational content
At the beginning of 2014, the US government forced Coursera to ban 20,000 Iranian users in compliance with US export control regulations. In June 2014, Coursera explained the whole story in a blog post:
“Earlier this year, we had to restrict access to our courses for certain countries, in compliance with US export control regulations. We have appreciated the outpouring of empathy from our community of learners, as well as the support from the broader public as this issue has gained attention in the global forum.
“Since then, we’ve been working closely with governing authorities to navigate licenses and permissions, and today we’re happy to report that Iranian learners will now regain access to the majority of Coursera’s courses. At our last estimate, we’ve seen more than 20,000 visitors from Iran take part in our courses, so we’re glad to open our (digital) doors again to these learners, and hopefully many more!”
Now they are doing it again
Just imagine that at beginning of 2014, there were 20,000 Iranian users on Coursera. In that time there were only 23 million Iranian internet users. Currently, Iran has 63.3% of 3G and 4G penetration rate and 41.1 million mobile broadband subscribers. This figure doesn’t include the number of users accessing the internet via ADSL, TD-LTE and other methods. However, the actual number should be at least as high as the number of Iranian social media users which is 47 million. If the number of internet users doubled in this period, the number of Iranian Coursera users should at least be doubled to 40,000.
If you head to Coursera’s International restrictions page, you can find new information regarding the new restrictions which is not right since we are talking about education services:
“United States export control regulations prohibit U.S. businesses, such as Coursera, from offering services to users in specific sanctioned regions.
“In order to comply with these regulations, Coursera does not allow users in the following areas to access certain parts of our site:
“Licenses from government authorities allow us to provide access to most courses to learners in these regions. However, per the terms of these licenses, we must continue to restrict access to select courses (primarily advanced courses in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).“
However, this is not the end of it, there is a term only for Iranians as well:
“Depending on your exact location, you may encounter an IP block when attempting to enroll in or otherwise access a course. In addition, learners in Iran may not purchase paid products, such as Course Certificates.“
US government is one of the most racist governments of all
Basically the policies of the US government show that, the country that claims to be free and against racism is the most racist of all. They have failed on many occasions from Vietnam to Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and so on. Even now it’s obvious that the only solution to the world’s problems is not war, However, President Trump proudly mentioned in his speech at UN that they would destroy North Korea with all of its people. Even considering this thought is not humane and is not right. If US government spends this money on global education and health we would have more peace in the world. I’m not only talking about Iran but anywhere in the world. If the US pushes education initiatives instead of war in third world countries or under developed countries, people would have more paths to choose. Plus, who has ever been able to build a bomb or anything like that from Coursera? Imagine that you were born in Iran or Sudan, what now? you don’t a have the right to learn because the US government doesn’t like your country’s government?
We are people, we didn’t choose where should we born, but every human has the right to have access to educational content. US government didn’t create science and knowledge, people did, and it’s the people who give power to the governments.