COURT DOC: United States Seizes Domain Names Used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps

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November 4, 2020

The United States has seized 92 domain names that were unlawfully used by Irans Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to engage in a global disinformation campaign. According to the seizure documents, four of the domains purported to be genuine news outlets but were actually controlled by the IRGC and targeted the United States for the spread of Iranian propaganda to influence United States domestic and foreign policy in violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), and the remainder spread Iranian propaganda to other parts of the world. In addition, the seizure documents describe how all 92 domains were being used in violation of U.S. sanctions targeting both the Government of Iran and the IRGC.

Four domains purported to be independent news outlets, but were actually operated by or on behalf of the IRGC to target the United States with pro-Iranian propaganda in an attempt to influence the American people to change United States foreign and domestic policy toward Iran and the Middle East. These domains targeted a United States audience without proper registration pursuant to FARA and without notifying the American public with a conspicuous notice that the content of the domains was being published on behalf of the IRGC and the Government of Iran.

In addition, the remaining 88 domains targeted audiences in Western Europe, the Middle East, and South East Asia and masqueraded as genuine news outlets while actually being operated by the IRGC to spread pro-Iranian disinformation around the globe to the benefit of the Government of Iran. The Government of Iran and the IRGC utilized website and domain services in the United States without a license from OFAC. All 92 domains are owned and operated by United States companies. Neither the IRGC nor the Government of Iran obtained a license from the Office of Foreign Assets Control prior to utilizing the domain names. (Source: U.S. Department of Justice)

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