Today, President Obama is going to issue an executive order which will allow US officials to clamp down on foreign nationals who use new technology -- from mobile phones through to interent monitoring -- to help undertake human rights abuses.
The announcement, which will be made during a speech at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, represents an acknowledgement that US security needs to adapt in a world increasingly structured around technology.
According to the Washington Post, the order is designed to "target companies and individuals assisting the governments of Iran and Syria", but in the future the same protocols could be used to name other individuals and organisations aiding other counties. Samantha Power, the National Security Council's senior director for multilateral affairs and human rights, explained to the Washington Post:
"This unprecedented direction from the president, and the development of a comprehensive strategy, sends a clear message that we are committed to combating atrocities, an old threat that regularly takes grim and modern new forms."
Under the new order, the US will apply sanctions such as visa bans and financial restrictions -- and as of today they will immediately apply to two Syrian "entities", one Syrian individual and four Iranian "entities", reports the Washington Post. [Washington Post]
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