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Chrome Blocked by Google

by Chrome Blog on October 17, 2008

I was contacted by someone today who informed me that Google Chrome is blocked in a number of counties. It appears Chrome is not only blocked from download from these locations, but also will not run if it’s used from this IP space even if downloaded by proxy.

Google had this to say:

“In accordance with US export controls and economic sanctions regulations, we are unable to permit the download of Google Chrome in Cuba, Syria, North Korea, Iran, and Sudan.”

Users are presented with this, and no further explanation:

Google Chrome Blocked

A couple of other Google downloads are also blocked such as Google Talk, GMail Notify and “possibly” Google Toolbar and Google Earth.. Can any readers from these blocked locations confirm these last two?

It does seem rather odd, Google displays Adsense in these countries no problems and “technically” makes advertising revenue in these blocked countries so i don’t see how this is ok with the “Economic Sanction” regulations but making Chrome available isn’t. Also many other Open Source applications, browsers and similar technology from other major US companies isn’t blocked and can be freely downloaded from these sanctioned locations.

The Treas.gov website says this under the Iran Sanctions document:

In general, a person may not export from the U.S. any goods, technology or services, if that person knows or has reason to know such items are intended specifically for supply, transshipment or re-exportation to Iran. Further, such exportation is prohibited if the exporter knows or has reason to know the U.S. items are intended specifically for use in the production of, for commingling with, or for incorporation into goods, technology or services to be directly or indirectly supplied, transshipped or reexported exclusively or predominately to Iran or the Government of Iran.

Is making something available to download worldwide on the internet “exporting” to a specific country?

I have no idea, so feel free to leave comments.

{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Gul Dukat 10.17.08 at 4:05 pm

This is unbelievable!!!
Democracy in action…

2 icekin 10.17.08 at 8:47 pm

Use Chromium, which is almost the same code, but open source. It does not require an installation either:

http://build.chromium.org/buildbot/snapshots/chromium-rel-xp/?O=D

Go to the folder with the highest number, usually the one at the very top, just
below the file called LATEST Download the chrome-win32.zip file found inside this folder. Unzip to somewhere on your hard disk and double click chrome.exe to run. Should work anywhere in the world, but I haven’t tried.

3 M.Y 10.17.08 at 11:20 pm

They name software “Open Source”, fill under laws and copyrights but in action there is no “Open Source”, they can wrote:

“It is our OpenSource law like other law that we say, ”
“Our law sometime works, some times not!!!! we check if our laws some time is not for any one in the world because we know all things!!!!”

They say if you ask them about laws, about : “American Laws”.

4 Ian 10.19.08 at 4:10 am

Um, so what?

If I were Google, that is people working in America, I’d not want to run the risk of going to prison by doing anything the American Government might not like.

Also, don’t the SSL etc routines count as a munition which Americans can’t export without breaking the law there?

5 Chrome Blog 10.19.08 at 7:11 am

icekin: Yes there are workarounds, and that’s probably the best one thanks.

Ian: That’s what i don’t know, Firefox and similar products from US companies can be downloaded by these sanctioned countries with no restrictions. So i don’t understand why Google is blocking these things, yet they display Adsense in these countries and generate revenue, plus many other of their services are even translated to accommodate use in these sanctioned countries.

Also is making something freely available to download on the net classified as “Exporting” to that country? If i put up a theme for anyone to download am i “Exporting technology or services to Cuba, Sudan etc”?

If Google is required to do this by law, so be it but why Google and not the thousands of other US companies offering unrestricted download of similar technology?

6 pete 10.19.08 at 8:01 pm

i guess we’ll be using usa.gov for all our Google’ing soon… ;-(

7 Guy U. Cantsee 10.21.08 at 1:47 am

There are reasonable answers for this. You are not asking the correct questions.

8 George Manlangit 10.25.08 at 9:53 am

Google can do whatever they wish regarding their products. It boils down to legal mumbo jumbo that lawyers can do to bring you down. Just because other products are not doing something similar (not restricting a product) does not mean that Google or your company should. Believe me, you don’t want to play around with the law or people who understand how to use the law to their advantage.

I think this is what Google is trying to avoid by restricting their products to certain countries.

9 Tom 10.26.08 at 5:50 am

Under the rather stupid laws of our country, encryption software (such as SSL) counts not as protected speech, but as munitions, and is subject to export restrictions. Thus any risk-averse entity must pretend to try to keep their “weapons” away from countries we don’t like. It’s a good thing to – imagine the horrible things that could happen if foreigners somehow obtained SSL software!

10 Chrome Blog 10.26.08 at 11:53 am

Thanks for the info Tom, so it’s due to the SSL?

Google must be doing something different with the SSL/Encryption as many other SSL enabled products are available for download in these countries.

The SSL layer is used with http to form https, and i know Google utilized https connections with these countries for instance when using Gmail.

Very strange.

11 somebody 10.27.08 at 12:14 am

Cryptographic algorithms and their implementations are covered under the export laws of the US. Encrypted connections are not. Breaking SSL is second nature for the NSA with all their processing power — but I’m sure they would really hate their jobs if every Muslim extremist had the latest and greatest encryption software on his computer and used it to send his buddies messages (intel, attack plans, meetings, etc). Unless Chrome has any of this, it’s a case of Google covering its ass.

12 Derek Tomes 10.30.08 at 9:00 pm

I guess the big question is, do these countries have MS Windows (with IE on it)? ’cause if they do, then either Microsoft or Google is wrong.

13 StareClips.com 10.31.08 at 11:25 pm

It works like this. By making the software available for download in a country where we are blocking trade, it is considered the equivalent of providing “goods”. So, downloads are not allowed.

However, just because Google shows an advertisement to someone browsing from Cuba, for instance, this is not breaking the trade agreement. After all, an ad is nothing more than a link. Google is allowed to make money from this transaction because the money itself is being paid by the advertiser (who is not in Cuba) as a result of the action taken by the individual in Cuba. This is ironic, because whatever the advertiser is advertising isn’t likely allowed to be sold to that ad-clicker.

There is a very good chance, though, that due to this, Google does not charge for clicks on ads from countries where exports are not allowed. Just because you see an ad, and just because you click on an ad, does not absolutely guarantee that Google will make money from this, or that the advertiser will have to pay. Google credits back money to their advertisers all the time for clicks that they deem as being fraudulent, and for clicks that originate from disallowed sources. For instance, if a Google employee clicks an ad, it won’t count. So, there’s a chance ad activity in disallowed countries might not be counted. But, again, even if they are, it wouldn’t break the trade agreements. Providing software, although free, WOULD break the trade agreement.

14 M.Y 11.01.08 at 5:47 am

If you have problem in downloading google chrome, in any country just use Iron, Iron is free, Secure and do not have any spy software, like google update that set an id for you when you first run this software.

Iron can run Portable, you can run it from Flash memory and also it is based on Chrome codes. because it is in Germany you do not worry about stupid, spy like, american version.
http://www.srware.net/en/software_srware_iron.php

15 walid 11.16.08 at 3:25 am

they will use int. Explorer or firefox they better than chrome anyway….remember it is still beta

16 air 11.20.08 at 5:33 am

That export restriction was the reaseon, the source code of pgp (pretty good privacy) was published in book form, send some europe country (books can be exported freely) and scanned back to code. The book was published optimal for scanning purposes.
Now having the source code in a country in europe, export restrictions to the code do not apply….

17 Chris 11.21.08 at 10:45 am

Google is absolutely right and is just following the law. Google is a big target, with lots of people watching their every move and none to happy to cry foul if they make even a minor misstep. That’s why Google has to be careful in following the letter of the law–dotting every i and crossing every t.

There are good reasons that the US, often at the behest of the UN, has imposed export regulations. But if you’re upset about Chrome being unavailable, then the proper course of action isn’t to blame Google. It’s to petition the government for redress.

18 Iman Ashegh 11.26.08 at 3:46 am

Dears it’s true. i’m from Iran and i cannot download google softwares from it’s site. but i can use them.

19 kirby145 11.30.08 at 6:19 pm

The thing is, people in other countries should have learned about proxies by now.

20 Adam 12.03.08 at 10:08 am

Countries not counties. It is reasonable to say that Google should not provide open source to the listed countries, and would say the list should be far longer. The listed countries, along with many others, do not follow the standard licensing regulations that guide software distribution, and therefore should not be able to participate any facet of software distribution, including open source. George Bush Rules!!

Please note, I’m being sarcastic, and shame on Google.

21 Amir 12.21.08 at 1:17 am

google code is not accessible in some countries too!

22 Owen Blacker 12.30.08 at 11:56 pm

Yeah, it’s the export restrictions on “dual use technologies” (so tech that can have both a military and a civilian use) — such as the “strong cryptography” in SSL.

If Microsoft and Firefox are available in those states, then I can only assume the servers providing those downloads are outside US jurisdiction.

I’d never thought about the trading with Cuba bit with AdWords and stuff before, which is really interesting, I think @StareClips.com is right about all of that part.

But that list has been around, in almost precisely that form, since an amendment to the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) on 16 February 1996, which relaxed the export restrictions on strong cryptography. Bill Clinton asked the State Department’s Bureau of Political Military Affairs to review the rules shortly after gaining office.

Before then, Netscape and Microsoft (for IE) couldn’t export full-strength SSL from the US, and we foreigners had to make do with 48-bit (or was it 56-bit?) SSL, unless we used Opera (written in Norway) or a German-written app that upgraded the SSL in Netscape. Fun days :o)

23 Praveen Premchandran 01.08.09 at 10:37 am

As far as I am concerned, Google is doing a pretty good job as far as dealing with the US Government is concerned… I should remind everyone that has or plans to bash Google for this that a year or two ago, when the US feds wanted user search information, companies such as Yahoo! and MSN gave up that information, it was only google who persisted against and refused totally any user statistics to the feds, thereby “saving” privacy of sorts…
If blocking the browser has to be done, then so it is, and as someone pointed out, just go for the open source Chromium which is pretty much the same, and benefit out of that…

24 Reflectionist 01.20.09 at 12:22 am

Don’t you see, guys? If we let Iranians download Google Chrome they could use it to make nuclear weapons, and we just can’t have that.

25 Nilo 02.03.09 at 11:49 am

Look for a freeware app called Ultrasurf. That will make any site you visit think you are in the United States and you will be able to download Chrome.

26 Darren 02.04.09 at 6:24 pm

I had a chance to work with some of the Syrian IT guys.. From them, I could know that, though there is a ban, all priated software programs are available freely in that market. When there is a restriction, people will have more interest in those. I could find many good guys in software related subjects. They know in and out of Microsoft Technologies, as they get it all for $1 in the market. No one to control such pirated market there.

27 shervin 03.06.09 at 6:41 am

we are so sorry for Google Because we cannot download and use chrome and google earth in iran.
we are sorry for google. poor google

28 Amir 05.26.09 at 5:35 am

I live in Iran and I confirm the blockage of the applications or services you mentioned above.

But guess what would happen if Google would also decide to take back our Gmail accounts. That would be a tyranny; a contribution to the established dictatorship in Iran!

29 fonzali 09.10.09 at 12:23 pm

I live in iran and I hate google for not letting us download their programs so for the internet I am using firefox and for a search engine I switched to bing

30 Mohamed Siddeeq 09.17.09 at 6:55 pm

Thanx for (14) M.Y FOR LEADING ME TO IRON … Iam leaving in Sudan.. How silly is google, come to Sudan and u will find PEPSI and COCA COLA in every grocery or even small shops.. They r just cheating when they say sanctions.. people here can simply say ” GOOGLE GO to HELL” !!!! my dears Hav a nice time !

31 Syrian 09.27.11 at 2:21 pm

He’s right, you can’t download Google Talk, Google Chrome, or any other Google programs using a Syrian IP address. I used to be able to download Chrome using Tor, but now even that isn’t possible. They seem to have been able to change the installer so as to check the local IP address of the computer and ignoring the proxy address.

Right now the only web browser I can use AND update is Firefox. Opera is available but I prefer both Chrome and Firefox over Opera. As for Chromium, because it is on the Google Code website, I can’t download it.

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