Google has announced on its blog that users in Syria can now access more of its services. Google Earth, Picasa and Chrome should all now be available for download.
So far Syrians have been experiencing messages along the lines of “not available in your country” and this may be down to software export restrictions there.
Google notes that U.S. export controls and sanctions programs prohibit the company from offering certain software downloads in some countries, but that these restrictions evolve and this appears to be an example of relaxation.
It’s a fine balance for the company that promotes transparency but would naturally like to do business in as many countries as possible without crossing legal lines.
Syria is known for various existing restrictions, YouTube was blocked inside the country as the Arab Spring uprisings began and the mobile video service Bambuser still appears to be barred.
Recently Syria was added to the ‘Enemies of the Internet’ report released by Reporters without Borders. Many governments and authorities see services that provide video streaming or the access to current information as a threat.
Time will tell if these parts of the Google suite will remain available as the country continues to see violence and unrest.