WASHINGTON (CNN) - Three U.S. senators said Thursday they will introduce legislation funding a package of assistance to help get around the Tehran regime's information block.
"The Iranian government recognizes that Internet is a threat to its stranglehold over society and is trying to impose its repressive controls over it," Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, said. "The legislation would authorize funds to ensure that Iranians have the hardware, software and other tools to evade the censorship and surveillance of the regime online."
McCain joined fellow Sens. Joe Lieberman, D-Connecticut, and Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, at a news conference to announce the legislation, which they said is an effort to support the Iranian people.
CNN Radio: Correspondent Reza Sayah, just back from Iran, has the latest from Tehran
Thousands of Iranians have taken to the streets to protest the results of the June 12 election results which gave incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a second term in office. Protesters, including many supporters of opposition candidate Mir Hossein Moussavi, have accused the Tehran regime of vote tampering and are calling for a new vote.
As a result, Iranian forces have brutally cracked down on the protests, restricted international journalists from covering the events, and blocked access to certain Web sites used to share information with the outside world, although many Iranians have been able to get around the blockade.
McCain compared the use of information-sharing Web sites to older technology provided by the United States in the past.
"During the Cold War we provided the Polish people and dissidents with printing presses," McCain said. "Twitter, Facebook and YouTube are the modern-day printing presses. They are the way to spread information and keep the hope of freedom alive amongst the Iranian people."
The bill, which has not been drafted yet, will authorize funding to allow Persian-language broadcaster Radio Farda - funded by Radio Free Europe and Voice of America (VOA) - to "expand its reach across the country," McCain said. It would also provide VOA's other broadcasts more time to broadcast.
Last week, Congress overwhelmingly approved non-binding resolutions to support "all Iranians who embrace the values of freedom, human rights, civil liberties and the rule of law."
McCain and Lieberman sponsored the resolution that was passed by the Senate.
U.S. President Barack Obama's administration is still walking a diplomatic tightrope in finding the right response to the crisis. The White House said Wednesday that it was rescinding invitations to Iranian diplomats overseas for U.S. Independence Day celebrations.
The president's position has evolved since his first comments after the Iranian election, in which he said he was "troubled" by the post-election violence and had "deep concerns about the elections." He went to great pains to say he didn't want the United States to be seen as "meddling."
He ruffled more than a few feathers in Iran and around the world last week when he said that when it came to U.S. national interests, there was little difference between Ahmadinejad and Moussavi.
By appearing at first to be neutral, Obama faced criticism from Republicans, like McCain - his challenger in the 2008 presidential campaign - and Graham who last weekend accused the president of being "timid and passive" in speaking out against the growing wave of arrests, violence and deaths of pro-democracy activists.
On Wednesday Obama said "it was that bloodshed" that led him to speak in more forceful terms, saying he was "appalled and outraged" by the violence.
Obama has said Iranians must be free to demonstrate peacefully, and his administration Wednesday withdrew invitations to Iranian diplomats around the world to attend U.S. Embassy 4th of July parties. The extension of invitations last month was seen as a cautious outreach to Iran, which has not had diplomatic relations with Washington for 30 years.
–CNN's Elise Labott contributed to this report