A report from Canadian researchers at The Citizen Lab linked several websites belonging to the government of Syria, and the Lebanese terrorist organization Hezbollah to web hosting providers in Canada, the US, and Germany. Some of the web sites do appear to be a contrevention of existing laws (Canada, US, and Europe) that prohibit firms from conducting any business with.
HostJury will post responses from the named firms.
Several media outlets have recently published articles based on a report from the Citizen Lab organization.
The report, entitled “The Canadian Connection: An investigation of Syrian government and Hezbullah web hosting in Canada” highlights a very important issue, providing a summary of what has become a complex problem for the web hosting industry.
The Canadian government has enacted regulations that restrict Canadian firms such as iWeb from doing business with certain foreign individuals and entities. iWeb is committed to strict compliance with these laws and continues to monitor its compliance.
In 2008, iWeb inadvertently hosted two websites affiliated with Hezbollah. When iWeb learned of the websites’ affiliation, it canceled its web hosting services.
Canada has enacted targeted sanctions against certain Syrian government entities and individuals. Canada has not enacted a broad embargo against doing business with Syria.
The Citizen lab report identified a number of Syrian government entities for which the internet address resolves directly or indirectly to iWeb. With one exception, none of the listed entities are subject to Canadian sanctions. The exception is Addunia T.V. which was listed as a sanctioned entity on October 3, 2011. iWeb has not provided any services directly to Addunia T.V. and is investigating whether its facilities have been used by one of its customers for the benefit of Addunia T.V. without its knowledge. iWeb will be taking all appropriate steps in light of its findings.
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Hosting of Syrian Websites
QUESTION: There are reports of U.S., German, and Canadian companies hosting Syrian Government websites. Does hosting a Syrian Government website constitute a sanctions violation? What action has the State Department taken to investigate these reports?
ANSWER: U.S. companies are prohibited from providing web-hosting or any other service to the Syrian government under Executive Order 13582 without a license from the Department of the Treasury. We refer questions about pending or ongoing licensure investigations to the Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control.
The U.S. government takes all reports of potential sanctions violations seriously. Our policies are designed to assist ordinary citizens who are exercising their fundamental freedoms of expression, assembly and association, while preventing exports of goods and services that repressive regimes can use against their people.