“Coursera” has reportedly been blocked in Cuba, Iran and Sudan due to the United States’ sanctions on the export businesses. Initially it was banned in Syria as well; however, the decision was later revoked.
People took to social media, condemning and criticizing the move that would adversely affect the educational and career aspirations of thousands of registered students.
Denying access to information in the so-called blacklisted countries – which already undergo a lot of internet censorship – is reprehensible and condemnable.
A major provider of free online college courses from over 100 prominent universities and organizations of the world, Coursera offers sound 500+ courses to more than 5 million students through its platform.
Dear US export regulations, thanks for being nausea-inducing. Love, The Third World. #Courseraban— Shruti (@Eveantium) January 29, 2014
Because if kids in Sudan can get an eduction on-line, then the terrorists have won? http://t.co/lmxyPAnCAC— William Vambenepe (@vambenepe) January 29, 2014
US Govt. has stopped @coursera from providing online education to students in Cuba, Syria & Sudan. Such a shameful act.— M. Obaid Bin Feroze (@ObaidBinFeroze) January 29, 2014
While Coursera may seem responsible for the ban, it is merely adhering to U.S. laws pertaining to sanctions. The policy change was explained on its official blog.
“Providing access to education for everyone has always been at the core of Coursera’s mission, and it is with deep regret that we have had to make a change to our accessibility in some countries.
Certain United States export control regulations prohibit U.S. businesses, such as MOOC providers like Coursera, from offering services to users in sanctioned countries, including Cuba, Iran, Sudan, and Syria. Under the law, certain aspects of Coursera’s course offerings are considered services and are therefore subject to restrictions in sanctioned countries, with the exception of Syria.”
According to a notification sent by the U.S. Department of State, certain educational services are not prohibited in the case of Syria.
“Coursera has received notice from the Department of State that the services it provides fall under an exception (according to OFAC’s Syria General License No. 11A), which authorizes certain services in support of nongovernmental organizations’ activities in Syria, particularly as they pertain to increasing access to education. This came to our attention after we initiated the blockage, however since learning about the exception, we have restored full access to students in Syria.”