Google has prevented download of its applications like GTalk, Gmail Notifier and Google Chrome in countries like Iran, North Korea, Syria, Cuba and Sudan. The reason being United States has export control and economic sanctions for these Middle Eastern and North African countries.
Though Syrians and Iranians have been blocked from using these applications, Google still seems to be serving them advertisements and make money from such countries. This is strange as the same laws and restrictions should apply to publishing also. Google cannot prevent a user from accessing some free applications and also make some revenue out of the same user.
The two possible causes for the blocking of Google Chrome, GTalk and Gmail notifier are said to be:
- The Export Administration Regulations
- 2003 OFAC Ruling
The export administration regulations restrict the dissemination of any software that could help build a weapon. Similarly, the OFAC states that any U.S. software if it originated in U.S or not in U.S. cannot be directly or indirectly exported to Iran by any U.S citizen.
These restrictions will help Google Chrome competitors like Firefox become more popular and reduce Google’s popularity or the good samaritan image it had with Syrians or Iranians.