Google launching Chrome, Earth, Picasa in Iran

Following the easing of certain export restrictions by the U.S. government, the search giant is making Chrome, Google Earth, and Picasa available in Iran.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
2 min read

Google is for the first time launching Chrome, Google Earth, and Picasa for users in Iran, according to the company's official blog.

The U.S. government recently lifted some of the restrictions prohibiting software downloads to Iran. Now, the search giant is looking to get its downloadable products into the hands of Iranian citizens while at the same time blocking access to the Iranian government.

"We're committed to full compliance with U.S. export controls and sanctions programs and, as a condition of our export licenses from the Treasury Department, we will continue to block IP addresses associated with the Iranian government," wrote Neil Martin, Google's Export Compliance Programs Manager, in the blog post.

Google's YouTube was one of the tools used by Iranian dissidents in the 2009 protests against the country's presidential election. Despite strong efforts by Tehran to block such services, many citizens were able to sneak past the barriers imposed by their government to get their message out.

Though the Iranian government may try to block the download of Chrome and the other products, Google is hoping these tools will open up new communications channels for Iranian citizens.

"There are many activist layers on Google Earth. Anyone can create a layer to show exactly what is going on in Iran," said Google's head of public policy, Scott Rubin, according to the BBC. Rubin also touted the benefits of Chrome, saying that "in a country with a history of government surveillance it is useful having a browser that can't easily be hacked."