US efforts to enhance the free flow of information to Iran (Section 1264 report)

Public Law 111-84, also known as the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), includes the VOICE Act which authorized $55 million for four efforts to “strengthen the ability of the Iranian people get access to news and information and overcome the electronic censorship and monitoring efforts of the Iranian regime.” Passed as part of the National Defense Authorization Act, these efforts remained authorized but not funded.

Section 1264 of the NDAA required a report by the Administration to provide a detailed description of informational activities related to Iran. That report was released recently without fanfare. It is available here, posted on Google Docs as a 470kb PDF (reduced from the 3mb original document and made searchable).

The report details the information efforts of the US Government toward Iran, including multiple social media platforms, and Iranian attempts to jam transmission and reception.

Comments on the Voice of America’s Persian News Network (PNN) is interesting, especially in light of the recent editorial by The Washington Times.

PNN’s programming evoked a strong response. The network received thousands of videos and still pictures, emails and phone calls, and an overall 800 percent rise in direct website visits. The Twitter account drew over 5,000 users in the face of heavy Iranian Internet interference, A flash poll taken in Iran shortly after the elections showed that large numbers of Iranians were relying on PNN’s TV programs to follow the events; 31 percent of those polled, for example, said they had been following the election controversy on PNN’s “Newstalk” program. …

Both PNN and Farda are active on social networking websites. PNN has a Twitter feed, seven approved Facebook sites with more than 30,000 followers, as well as six approved blogs, including one for Sports. The PNN YouTube stte was a source of video news during and after the Iranian election, with 470,000 views in that time span. Radio Farda is also present on Facebook. Launched in April 2009, Radio Farda’s Facebook page has 20,000 fans with more than 3,000 interactions weekly (October 2009), making Radio Farda website’s content available to more than 200,000 Facebook participants. During and after last June’s presidential election in Iran, Parda ‘ s webpage had nearly six million visits and more than 18 million page views (July 2009).

Read the whole report here.

4 Replies to “US efforts to enhance the free flow of information to Iran (Section 1264 report)”

  1. I’m not sure I understand your comment. The link is live to the PDF of the Act. Section 1264 is on the second page. The language I’m referring to is:

    SEC. 1264. ANNUAL REPORT.
    (a) IN GENERAL.—Not later than 90 days after the date of
    the enactment of this Act, and annually thereafter for 5 years, the President shall submit a report to Congress that provides a detailed description of—
    (1) United States-funded international broadcasting efforts in Iran;
    (2) efforts by the Government of Iran to block broadcasts
    sponsored by the United States or other non-Iranian entities;
    (3) efforts by the Government of Iran to monitor or block
    Internet access, and gather information about individuals;
    (4) plans by the Broadcasting Board of Governors for the
    use of the amounts appropriated pursuant to section 1244,
    including—
    (A) the identification of specific programs and platforms
    to be expanded or created; and
    (B) satellite, radio, or Internet-based transmission
    capacity to be expanded or created;
    (5) plans for the use of the Iranian Electronic Education, Exchange, and Media Fund;
    (6) a detailed breakdown of amounts obligated and disbursed from the Iranian Electronic Media Fund and an assessment of the impact of such amounts;
    (7) the percentage of the Iranian population and of Iranian territory reached by shortwave and medium-wave radio broadcasts by Radio Farda and Voice of America and any other relevant demographic information that can be ascertained about the audience for such broadcasts;
    (8) the Internet traffic from Iran to Radio Farda and Voice of America Web sites; and
    (9) the Internet traffic to proxy servers sponsored by the Broadcasting Board of Governors, and the provisioning of surge capacity.
    (b) CLASSIFIED ANNEX.—The report submitted under subsection (a) may include a classified annex.

    The report is here, as noted in the post above.

  2. Hi, I tried the link to the report & it sends me to my Google Docs page but not this report. Is there a link to this report that doesn’t require Google Docs authorization?McCain is accusing the Obama admin of not using the $55 million. Greens are passing around a Farsi article citing this as an example of how the Obama admin has not stood in solidarity with Greens. Can you help clarify?
    Thank you.

  3. @MWforHWWhat document comes up when you click on the link to the Google Doc? (here is the same link as above)
    On McCain, it is dubious that McCain would seriously accuse the President of not using the $55 million since no money has been allocated. The VOICE Act is an authorization not an appropriation. In other words, there’s no $55 million to use (or not use). Any accusation by McCain should be directed toward the appropriators. The Senate and House defense appropriators had the chance to fund the VOICE Act but both subcommittees ignored it. Can you provide a reference where McCain accused the President of “not using the $55 million”?

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