Back in June, we urged companies offering educational or communications tools to apply for licenses to make their products available in Sudan. Last week, we were thrilled to learn that Coursera—an online educational course provider that Sudanese activists have told us is "in great demand"—successfully applied for and was granted a license from the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) granting them permission to offer courses in Sudan and Cuba.
While EFF is critical of the piecemeal approach undertaken by the U.S. government in updating sanctions provisions to allow for greater access to technology, we can't ignore the fact that the licensing process often provides more immediate relief to individuals and organizations in sanctioned countries like Sudan. The positive response from Sudanese online has been palpable, despite the fact that certain courses in science, technology, engineering and math remain inaccessible. In a country where even universities are turning to online courses as a supplement, the impact of Coursera's decision cannot be underestimated.
We commend Coursera for taking initiative and urge other companies to do the same.