WASHINGTON, D.C. – Large-scale protests are ongoing across Iran even after the government restricted internet access and blocked social media apps. Now, U.S. lawmakers are urging the State Department to do more to help the Iranian people.
While the U.S. recently eased international internet restrictions to counter Tehran's government censorship, billionaire Elon Musk wants to take it one step further. He wants to provide Iranians with Starlink, his unique satellite internet service. While the satellites are now active over Iran, the signal won't be accessible until portable receivers can be distributed throughout the country.
"In Ukraine, he pushed thousands of them, but obviously, we had a government to work alongside. In Iran, we don't. But there are NGO's on the ground. We have covert means through various partnerships and routes that we can get these things in," Rep. Mike Waltz (R-FL) told CBN News.
Congressman Waltz believes the U.S. government should coordinate those efforts. He and Rep. Maria Salazar recently wrote to Secretary of State Antony Blinken requesting the State Department get involved.
"I mean, this Starlink system can be an avenue for freedom and be an avenue to expose these regimes, whether it's cell phone videos being taken to show their brutality or just people's message to their loved ones around the world that's trying to get out. I think we have a moral responsibility to help get these receivers in so that they can link up with the satellites and get these messages out," Waltz said.
The receivers would allow users to bypass firewalls put in place by the Iranian government and connect directly to satellite internet.
Musk, however, has warned that there's significant risk involved. The signal can be easily tracked, which means Iran's security forces could locate users, shut them down, and arrest them.
Still, Waltz says that even knowing the risks, people are calling his office and begging the U.S. to help get these receivers in.
"They are taking risks, not to just themselves, but to their entire families, because these regimes crackdown not just on the person daring to speak out but their family, their village, their entire tribe, and they're still willing to take those risks and they're willing to fight for their freedom," he explained.
Waltz hopes the U.S. will agree to facilitate this public-private partnership. Still, he worries the Biden Administration may not want to risk rocking the boat with the Islamic regime in order to complete its controversial new Iran nuclear deal.