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Education Politics

US Forces Coursera To Ban Students From Cuba, Iran, Sudan, and Syria 306

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the knowledge-is-a-controlled-export dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Coursera is an online website that offers free courses from many of the world's top universities. Now, all students from Syria, Sudan, Iran and Cuba will no longer be able to access Coursera. The official blog provides more info regarding the ban: 'Until now the interpretation of export control regulations as they relate to MOOCs has been unclear and Coursera has been operating under the interpretation that MOOCs would not be restricted. We recently received information that has led to the understanding that the services offered on Coursera are not in compliance with the law as it stands ... 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.'"
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US Forces Coursera To Ban Students From Cuba, Iran, Sudan, and Syria

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @09:53AM (#46099275)

    Why doesn't the US do business with communist Cuba but they do with communist China?

    The US is mad at governments, not the people of countries. Are they insinuating that all citizens are potential terrorists? Why not ban it from Americans too because the US seems to think that every American could be a domestic terrorist -- especially those darned Tea Party and Libertarians. Mention the word constitition and you go on a watch list.

  • by MindStalker (22827) <mindstalkerNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @10:03AM (#46099375) Journal

    The problem here is that our laws haven't kept pace with technology. In the height of the Cold War, you didn't want our nuclear scientist teaching the world how to build atomic bombs, and yet every student who went into physics at US university was basically taught the core technologies. The list goes on. Export of knowledge is thus highly regulated. Hopefully coursera will lead the charge in changing the laws, but we can't pretend these laws don't exist.

  • by Chrisq (894406) on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @10:07AM (#46099405)

    Why doesn't the US do business with communist Cuba but they do with communist China?

    If Cuba could beat China on the price of cheap electrical goods, toys, etc. I think there would be a quick change in policy.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @10:10AM (#46099427)

    Because of people, like my parents, who are from Cuba and came to the US in '75. They live in Northern Florida and want nothing less than the Cuban government destroyed and won't vote for ANYONE who even waivers in their distain for Cuba.

    Myself? I think it's silly.

  • petition (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Twelfth Harmonic (3464759) on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @10:22AM (#46099537)
    for what it's worth - https://petitions.whitehouse.g... [whitehouse.gov]
  • Business leaving USA (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Taco Cowboy (5327) on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @10:24AM (#46099549) Journal

    Because obviously less education is the solution. [/irony]

    What we have here is that the US politicians representing a bunch of UN-EDUCATED FOOLS !

    The US politicians don't seem to care that businesses are leaving USA.

    By banning students from specific country to take ***FREE*** university courses offered by top universities from ***ALL OVER THE WORLD*** the United States of America is signifying to the world that "We Do Not Need Your Business Here".

    With this kind of attitude coupled with the Snowden revelations, businesses _are_ leaving the United States.

  • Re:Yea. So? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TWX (665546) on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @10:34AM (#46099617)

    Why? A good general education program in Iran/Afghanistan would do a lot more to help fight the Taliban then the $4,000,000,000,000 they just wasted.

    Because that good education could also serve to provide applicable knowledge to one's adversaries, especially in the science and engineering fields.

    Think of it through another medium, in the form of those that our military is willing to take as enlistees. Known gang members are generally barred from enlisting, as there's concern that once they've acquired knowledge in learning how to fight and learning how to use weapons, they'll take that knowledge back to train their gang and will use it against the local civilian population. A single enlistment term is a fairly short amount of time, and given the fairly low death rate of our soldiers, it's very likely that someone will survive to return with this training without having 'been converted' in taking their true allegiance from their pre-military-service days.

    For now I agree with not providing such educational services to those living in countries facing such export controls. Yes, it sucks for those people in those countries, but without practical ways to confirm that those using these services are not proxies of the state, there's no way to keep those states from benefiting from the service.

  • Re:education (Score:3, Interesting)

    by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @10:36AM (#46099633) Homepage Journal

    Even in a somewhat broken democratic republic, it takes more than the 1% to vote in the 1%...

    Unless your election turnout is <1%.

    Or, you know - rigged voting mechanisms.

    I used to be against the idea of "verified voting," but with the mass adoption of black box voting machines, [blackboxvoting.org] I think I've changed tack on that one.

  • What About Facebook? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by guttentag (313541) on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @10:51AM (#46099759) Journal

    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...

    Facebook is a "U.S. business" that is "offering services" to users in sanctioned countries. Only it's the Iranian government that tries to block it and redirects you to a page informing users the Web site they are trying to access is "bad for your health." I suppose the difference is that Facebook can be used to help people organize to overthrow the regime the U.S. government does not want, so that makes it OK. Plus, more people using it in a sanctioned country gives the NSA a clearer picture of the trends, attitudes and threats in that country.

    I'm not saying Facebook should be restricted from offering services in countries like Iran. I'm saying laws should be applied equally, not politically.

  • by raymorris (2726007) on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @11:27AM (#46100027)

    Most of the replies here assume that the US has banned providing courses to these countries. That's not the case. The embargos ban providing SERVICES to these countries. It's not that anyone thinks restricting education is a good idea. The law is just ham-fisted. "Don't provide any services to Syria" means ANY services, including educational services.

    That law is ham-fisted is a good thing to keep in mind generally. "You may not hire anyone for less than $10 / hour" means the retarded kid can't be hired as an apprentice, for example, because his work only generates $6/ hour.

  • Re:education (Score:5, Interesting)

    by causality (777677) on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @11:52AM (#46100225)

    Historically, all campaign finance reform does is make barriers to anyone who has a voice they wish to get out. Barriers that only the "1%" and their team of lawyers can navigate through. Guess I'm playing my cards as a nut job libertarian here, but this is one area more laws and regulation just make the problem they are trying to solve worse.

    What I want is the one kind of campaign financing system we haven't yet tried. All candidates should receive a large, very generous campaign fund from the government. It should be an equal amount for all candidates who meet the criteria of being on the ballot. Then, any additional contributions from any source is considered bribery, with the offering party punished severely with hard prison time, and the candidate also punished if he or she accepts.

    That's how you disenfranchise the monied interests and return the campaign back to winning over the voters. An extremely generous, lavish campaign fund that comes from taxpayer dollars would still be very much less expensive than the way we do things now.

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