Mark Dubowitz, executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington, said yesterday's initiatives are meant to underscore the role that government restrictions on technology play in crushing dissent.
Internet social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have become vital for activists, as the so-called Arab Spring uprisings demonstrated. The U.S. has stepped up efforts to stop regimes such as Iran and Syria from blocking such access through what Obama has called the "malign use of technology."
The Internet-related sanctions were imposed by the Treasury Department under an executive order signed in October by Obama. The president also signed an executive order in April authorizing sanctions against individuals and entities that provide information technology that aid regimes in cracking down on dissidents.
The message is "if you sell technology to Iran you are selling to the Revolutionary Guard Corps," said Dubowitz.