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GAO Finds US Military's Critical Technologies List Outdated, Useless 71

Posted by timothy
from the things-belonging-to-the-emperor dept.
chicksdaddy writes "The U.S. Department of Defense has stopped updating its main reference list of vital defense technologies that are banned from export, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), The Security Ledger reports. The Militarily Critical Technologies List (MCTL) is used to identify technologies that are critical to national defense and that require extra protection — including bans on exports and the application of anti-tamper technology. GAO warned six years ago that the Departments of State and Commerce, which are supposed to use the list, found it too broad and outdated to be of much use. The latest report (GAO 13-157) finds that the situation has worsened: budget cuts forced the DOD to largely stop updating and grooming the list in 2011. Sections on emerging technologies are outdated, while other sections haven't been updated since 1999. Without the list to rely on, the DOD has turned to a hodgepodge of other lists, while officials in the Departments of State and Commerce who are responsible for making decisions about whether to allow a particular technology to be exported have turned to ad-hoc networks of subject experts. Other agencies are looking into developing their own MCTL equivalents, potentially wasting government resources duplicating work that has already been done, GAO found."
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GAO Finds US Military's Critical Technologies List Outdated, Useless

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  • (..) technologies that are critical to national defense and that require extra protection — including bans on exports and the application of anti-tamper technology.

    They mean Blu-Ray movies?

    • by AK Marc (707885)
      Ban the numbers 0-9. Nothing will get out then.

      Or ban the export of jobs...
      • by ShanghaiBill (739463) * on Saturday January 26, 2013 @12:25AM (#42698605)

        Or ban the export of jobs...

        That is better than requiring the export of jobs, which is what the current policy does in practice. If you want to be able to sell a technology world-wide, then you need to do your R&D outside of America. If you do it inside, you will subject to export restrictions while your non-American competitors cleanup.

        In the 1990s, I worked for a company that included cryptography in our products. Since it was illegal to export anything developed in the USA, we decided to do all our cryptography development in Shanghai, China. But it turned out it was difficult to manage a split team, and consolidating in the USA was impossible. So we laid of all our American engineers that were unwilling to move to Shanghai. I moved there, and it was a fantastic experience. I learned to speak Mandarin, and even ended up starting a family there. But from a policy perspective, it was completely insane. What was more frustrating was that it seemed to be universally recognized as stupid policy, but still persisted for years.

        • by AK Marc (707885)
          hihao meiguoren. I'd move to china to take a job if the wife would let me.

          And yes, most policies are silly, ones like this achieving the opposite of their stated goal.
        • Since it was illegal to export anything developed in the USA, we decided to do all our cryptography development in Shanghai, China.

          It is usually more efficient to cut out the middleman [telegraph.co.uk].

          I hope your cryptographic products aren't protecting anything important in the West.

    • by bmo (77928) on Friday January 25, 2013 @11:58PM (#42698515)

      > They mean Blu-Ray movies?

      No, they mean the "do not remove under penalty of law" tags on the mattresses.

      --
      BMO

  • We all know why... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Because if there was a definitive list, the applications of those technologies would become obvious as well as what level of sophistication is deemed dangerous. For example, if we banned certain wide-band radio transmitters, on the grounds that they can be used for neural interfaces to manipulate humans, then we are telling people what they need to buy.

    So, its really sort of a potential shopping list for the enemy.

  • Seems kind of pointless to even create such a list, when it simply becomes a "Steal me" shopping list for foreign intelligence. Kind of like doing their homework for them. Half the stuff on the list is probably manufactured in other countries already.

    If you insist on having such a list, (and presumably keep it secret), the only sensible list would be an automatically "sunsetted" list, where you list something that will automatically fall off the list after X years, where X has a value between 1 and 5. Th

    • by Anonymous Coward

      If you insist on having such a list, (and presumably keep it secret)

      That's brilliant. Make a list of things that can't be exported and keep it a secret. So any exporter of technology gets to guess at what may or may not get their cargo seized.

      • by icebike (68054)

        If you manufacturer something on this list there is a pretty good chance the military is your biggest customer already, and you already know your kit is sensitive.

        • by Teun (17872)
          Hmm, it's a couple of years ago when in Lafayette I decided to buy a boxed version of Red Hat.
          Once out of the shop I noticed a printed warning on the box that it could not be sold to certain nationalities because of encryption used.

          No one in the shop asked me where I would take it nor was I asked at the border when leaving.

          Excellent security policy...

  • by NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) on Friday January 25, 2013 @11:55PM (#42698503)
    I remember, in the 80's, Xenix was "export restricted", especially libc.a if it had "crypt.o" in it - like the algorithm hadn't been published many years prior to that. Anybody remember the big Toshiba machine-tool controller foorah that supposedly allowed the Soviets make quieter submarine propellers?

    Does anybody think that our enemies-du-jour (and our friends, too) aren't reading all our science journals and buying samples of all manner of products for reverse engineering? Or for that matter, does anybody really think that we aren't doing the exact same thing, all over the world?

    Lists like these are like "the seven words you can't say on television" - just a dare for somebody to do it.
    • by bmo (77928)

      >I remember, in the 80's, Xenix was "export restricted", especially libc.a if it had "crypt.o" in it

      That's because until the Clinton administration, encryption under US law was classified under "munitions."

      Since World War II, many governments, including the U.S. and its NATO allies, have regulated the export of cryptography for national security considerations, and, as late as 1992, cryptography was on the U.S. Munitions List as an Auxiliary Military Technology.[1]

      From wikipedia.

      It was one of the reason

    • Does anybody think that our enemies-du-jour (and our friends, too) aren't reading all our science journals and buying samples of all manner of products for reverse engineering?

      Large, powerful nations have a habit of denigrating their enemies. Said enemies can't just be on the other side; they have to be stupid and cowardly and barbaric and, in general, barely human. What's never explained, of course, is how people who are this all-around worthless can simultaneously pose a deadly threat which must be guarded against every minute of every day.

      To be fair, to some degree this is human nature and everybody does it, but superpowers seem to be particularly prone to this kind of think

    • When it comes to sophisticated products or technologies, marketing announcements, journal articles, even refereed papers are fine things. However, if you are actually trying to build the thing yourself, you need an actual recipe to do it, and sometimes the real secret, the art of it, is in the recipe, the actual implementation. Think of something so simple as rubber, which had been known for hundreds of years or more, but had defeated previous attempts to improve its utility. That is until Charles Goody [goodyear.com]

    • I remember, in the 80's, Xenix was "export restricted", especially libc.a if it had "crypt.o" in it - like the algorithm hadn't been published many years prior to that. Anybody remember the big Toshiba machine-tool controller foorah that supposedly allowed the Soviets make quieter submarine propellers?

      It wasn't just Xenix, it was about half of all the high-tech in existence. Those lists have always been a joke, both because they were totally out of touch with current technology, and because they seemed to have been generated by throwing darts at a Mouser catalogue. Back when it was still COCOM I once had to go through the IT section of the control lists, and found that something like a third of all the products sold in the computer store down the road were (in theory) export-controlled, things like "ch

    • by DirtyLiar (796951)

      Actually it's more simmilar to the days when software producers made public announcements declairing their copy-protection to be un-hackable. That was a real call-to-arms to the leagons of socially-challenged, pimpelly faced, snot-nosed, don't-have-anything-better-to-do-all-weekend kids around the world to put grampa back in his place. It took the Software Insustry years to realize that for every single person they put on making copy-protection 40 hours a week, that there were hundreds of kids out there wil

  • by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Saturday January 26, 2013 @12:15AM (#42698583)

    There should be a list of products that are encouraged for sale to our enemies.

    Ideas:

    Boeing batteries
    Ford Pinto
    Fen-Phen
    Bon Vivant Vichyssoise
    Pop Tarts
    Twinkies
    Intel Pentium (original version)
    UML
    Microsoft Windows ME

    They will regret messing with us!

  • RSA in perl (and dc)

    #!/bin/perl -sp0777iX+d*lMLa^*lN%0]dsXx++lMlN/dsM0j]dsj $/=unpack('H*',$_);$_=`echo 16dio\U$k"SK$/SM$n\EsN0p[lN*1 lK[d2%Sa2/d0$^Ixp"|dc`;s/\W//g;$_=pack('H*',/((..)*)$/) ...and of course /. is munging the format...

  • Now Americanz can sell computerz with openSSL configured to for'nerz like Mark J. Cox, Ralf S. Engelschall, Dr. Stephen Henson, Ben Laurie, and... [openssl.org]

  • by Genda (560240) <mariet@nOSpAM.got.net> on Saturday January 26, 2013 @01:25AM (#42698787) Journal

    Sell everything to everyone, make certain there are abundant back doors to allow American defense systems to disarm weapons using American Technology so they can't be used against us and let the good times roll.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I for one sleep better at night knowing Czechoslovakia will not get their red hands on the advanced cryptography present in Netscape's Navigator 3.0 Gold.

  • Bans on export, when any blueprint can be sent anywhere at all in about zero time, they're guarding a door with no wall.

    How much are those bozos PAID?

    • I suppose the idea is that blueprints aren't very helpful if you don't have the manufacturing capability or the parts/raw materials/computer code/etc needed to build whatever it is you have the blueprints for.
  • Please ban export of future Windowsâ versions
  • ....they are using Microsoft products and vertical applications with no source code. How long has the open source community been saying that this was insanity?

  • I've looked over the comments on this thread with frustration, seeing that the conversation swiftly derailed into being *just* about Crypto. The MCTL covers all areas of technology that may be deemed militarily critical. It is not really possible to find a publicly hosted .gov or .mil site that gives much info any more, but this university page stills shows the 20 areas covered: http://www.wright.edu/rsp/Security/T1threat/Mctl.htm [wright.edu] , including things like space systems and nuclear technologies.
  • ... so how are we supposed to know what we can and cannot export?

    Especially since "ignorance is not a defence"?

"When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro..." -- Hunter S. Thompson

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