Elon Musk Proposes Starlink Access in Iran as Protests Spread

Elon Musk said his satellite internet system Starlink would seek sanctions exceptions to provide its services in Iran, in an apparent attempt to increase access to information outside the country because Protests spread.

Mr. Musk, the founder of SpaceX, made the proposal on Twitter at the request of Erfan Kasraie, who describes himself as a Persian-language journalist and doctoral researcher. Mr Kasraie tweeted that such access would be a “game changer for the future”.

The offer for Starlink to enter Iran comes as protests spread across the country in response to a young woman, Mahsa Amini, 22, who was detained by police earlier this month for allegedly violating the country’s strict Islamic dress code. SpaceX has been building Starlink for years, a satellite high-speed internet service that most recently served in Ukraine following the Russian invasion. Users must have a special Starlink kit (including antenna) to access the service.

Internet access, a vital tool for protesters and activists in Iran, has blocked many services, such as YouTube and many foreign media, in an attempt to impose what the country calls a halal internet, or an internet that conforms to its interpretation of Islamic law. In past protests, the government has tried to isolate protesters from the internet, while demonstrators have sought workarounds to keep in touch with each other and the outside world.

The demonstrations in Tehran on Monday were sparked by police announcing the death of Mahsa Amini in police custody for allegedly violating Iran’s strict dress code for women.


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Authorities have regularly shut down the internet in parts of the country since Ms Amini’s death, according to Netblocks, an internet watchdog that monitors traffic disruptions around the world.

A cottage industry of tools, partly funded by the U.S. government, has sprung up to help Iranians — including journalists and dissidents — access the country’s internet. Starlink could add a significant new source of Internet access to these tools.

It is unclear how Musk intends to ship the Starlink kits to Iran, or to whom the company will distribute them. A representative for SpaceX did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

write to Sam Schechner, sam.schechner@wsj.com

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