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Complying with Country-Access Restrictions Using IP Intelligence

Not every sanctions program involves online access restrictions -- but some do. And, it’s up to individual companies to understand and follow the sanctions as they apply.

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Most people know about autocratic countries that block the ability of their citizens to see independent news reports or other online content deemed inappropriate or “subversive.” Sometimes, however, it’s organizations in the U.S. and elsewhere that need to restrict the ability of users in certain countries from accessing websites and downloading software or other material. The U.S. and other governments place some countries on embargoed lists, and companies that break those embargos can face significant fines and even criminal charges.

In the U.S., for example, the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Asset Control administers the economic sanctions that are in effect against various countries at any given time. Currently the U.S. has sanctions programs affecting more than 25 countries, with some of the programs implementing comprehensive business bans and other programs involving more selective restrictions.

The U.S. State Department’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls also provides a list of country policies and embargos. Not every sanctions program involves online access restrictions, but some do. And, it’s up to individual companies to understand and follow the sanctions as they apply – in the U.S. or in any other countries where the companies may conduct business.

Knowing about the web access restrictions and actually enforcing them are two different things, of course. That’s where IP Intelligence and geolocation services come into play. IP Intelligence data can apply sophisticated analytics against multiple data sources and provide accurate geolocation information about devices and users seeking access. In the context of sanctioned country programs, this insight can enable “geo-compliance” – ensuring that companies don’t run afoul of online access restrictions.

Neustar tracks and maps 99.99%  of all routable and addressable IP addresses worldwide, and maintains more than 30 data attributes for each address. Among those attributes are continent, state, city, postal/zip code, latitude/longitude, and time zone.

To this geographic data, Neustar adds information about network characteristics (connection type, speed, routing type, etc.) as well as the ownership of each IP address (Autonomous System Number, carrier name, registering organization, etc.)

With this data, Neustar can then assign a confidence factor for four geographic fields – country, state, city, and postal code. An outside auditor found that Neustar achieved 99.9% data accuracy at the country level – which is extremely important in the context of compliance with country-access governance policies.

Companies seeking to tap Neustar’s geolocation expertise have three options for doing so. They can subscribe to Neustar’s hosted on demand service and use it to quickly write and enforce geolocation-based business rules. Companies with more demanding applications and high traffic volumes may deploy a scalable on-premise solution their own data centers.  And finally, customers can elect to receive updates, either daily or weekly, as a .csv file.

Whatever the method they use, growing numbers of companies need to ensure that they comply with country- and other location-based sanction and restrictions. The penalties for non-compliance can be steep – legally, monetarily, and in terms of a company’s reputation. With the availability of highly accurate and reliable ways to identify an online user’s location, there’s no need to run the risk of inadvertently breaking an online country embargo.

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