Home / / US sanctions sees Live Messenger blocked in Syria

US sanctions sees Live Messenger blocked in Syria

Microsoft makes surprise decision to turn off IM service for five embargoed countries as users voice disapproval

Microsoft has opted to turn off its Windows Live Messenger service in Syria and four other countries that are “subject to United States sanctions.”

Cuba, Syria, Iran, Sudan and North Korea are all affected by the surprising move, with a company spokesperson clarifying to the media that: “Microsoft has discontinued providing Instant Messenger services in certain countries subject to United States sanctions. Details of these sanctions are available from the United States Office of Foreign Assets Control.”

According to the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) website, the US Department of Treasury enforces economic and trade sanctions based on US foreign policy and national security goals against “targeted foreign countries and regimes, terrorists, international narcotics traffickers, those engaged in activities related to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and other threats to the national security, foreign policy or economy of the United States.”

Many are now questioning why Microsoft made such a controversial decision, when other top US technology firms like Yahoo! and Google continue to offer IM (Instant Messaging) services in the affected countries.

Upon investigation, itp.net found that residents in Syria are presently using the blocked service by changing the ‘country/region’ under the Home Location tab on their Live.com account. While the IM clients Yahoo! Messenger and Google Talk remain open, residents are complaining that they are mysteriously unable to install Google’s Chrome browser.

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