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United States Government News Technology

Can the US Stop the Illegal Export of Its Technology? 351

coondoggie writes "Maybe people are more desperate or maybe there's just too much opportunity to make a quick buck but whatever the excuse, attempts to illegally export technology from the US has gone through the roof. The Department of Justice this week said it has placed criminal charges or convictions against more than 255 defendants in the past two fiscal years — 145 in 2008 and 110 in 2007. That 255 number represents more than a six-fold increase from fiscal year 2005, when the DOJ said about 40 individuals or companies were convicted of over 100 criminal violations of export control laws."
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Can the US Stop the Illegal Export of Its Technology?

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  • by Watson Ladd ( 955755 ) on Wednesday October 29, 2008 @08:38PM (#25563591)
    Since Bernstein sued crypto can be exported without restriction.
  • Re:Excuse? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 29, 2008 @08:39PM (#25563603) []

    It's a really interesting observation that some people turn into ideology.

  • Re:Excuse? (Score:3, Informative)

    by e9th ( 652576 ) <e9th@tupodex.EULERcom minus math_god> on Wednesday October 29, 2008 @08:41PM (#25563623)
    Don't confuse information with technology. Most of the prosecutions [] were for exporting goods, not IP.
  • by Geoffrey.landis ( 926948 ) on Wednesday October 29, 2008 @08:48PM (#25563685) Homepage
    Note that while the headlines make it seem like they're talking about nuclear weapons technologies and high tech, the majority of these are probably violations of the ITAR [] laws that have little or nothing to do with weapons-- the law is so broadly written that almost anything could be "arms". Export a laptop [] and you're violating ITAR.

    ... and then, if you scroll down a little in the referenced article, this line is interesting: "Mexico seems to be the hotspot for illegal exports of firearms, including assault weapons and rifles, as well as large quantities of ammunition, the DOJ stated." So, apparently bullets are part of this "illegal export of [US] technology"

  • it works both ways (Score:4, Informative)

    by BigBadBus ( 653823 ) on Wednesday October 29, 2008 @08:54PM (#25563735) Homepage
    I used to work for Bae Systems in Farnborough and the management there would constantly bemoan the fact that the US couldn't/wouldn't share any technological advances with us for x number of years. We, of course, were expected to share with them, lest we sacrifice our special agreements and co-operations.
  • by scrod98 ( 609124 ) on Wednesday October 29, 2008 @09:07PM (#25563875)
    Not true - US Bureau of Industry and Security still requires that encryption software export is controlled (15CFR774). We have applied for and received several license exemptions, but still must report our exports of our software that includes blowfish twice per year, to the actual addresses each shipment is sent.
  • Re:Excuse? (Score:5, Informative)

    by init100 ( 915886 ) on Wednesday October 29, 2008 @10:03PM (#25564355)

    That appeared to be talking about the physical costs to getting information out.

    I see the Information wants to be free as an observation that information spreads easily, and that once something is out, you can't lock it up again, just like you can't put a genie back into a bottle.

    A good example of this is the Streisand Effect [], in which some entity tries to force the removal of some piece of information from the internet, but since the attempt makes people perceive the information as valuable, large numbers make sure that they get a copy themselves. Poster cases for this effect is the attempt by certain movie companies to remove a HD-DVD encryption key from the internet []. The attempt seriously backfired, making the encryption key one of the most well-known large numbers on the internet.

  • Re:And the Answer Is (Score:2, Informative)

    by VisceralLogic ( 911294 ) <<paul> <at> <>> on Wednesday October 29, 2008 @10:57PM (#25564735) Homepage
    Eperience and expertise are a huge player here. You can read all the books you want, but it doesn't mean you'll be able to actually design a better aircraft.
  • Re:Or (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 29, 2008 @11:03PM (#25564763)

    Perhaps you meant 'personified'.

    No, when he said "...and yet, information hates to be anthromorphized" he was correct.
    Or, at least, he would have been if he'd typed anthropomorphized [].

  • Re:Excuse? (Score:5, Informative)

    by HungryHobo ( 1314109 ) on Thursday October 30, 2008 @05:28AM (#25566553)

    Hmm.... I dunno.
    If I was currently selling illegal drugs in the US and wanted to continue to rake in giant piles of money I'd be making political donations to whoever was pushing the "tough on drugs" laws with a little note along the lines of "keep up the good work mate".
    Why? Well if it was legalised I'd be ruined!

    Who was hurt most by the ending of prohibition? The mob of course, they wanted it to never end.
    Legal distributors selling safer cheaper drugs would push them out of the market entirely.

    The best thing that can happen for them is for a competitor to be busted, they can just expand into their former market overnight. Sure they might be busted themselves but the organisations which survive and grow will be the ones which are best at avoiding getting caught.

    I've heard that during prohibition foreign alcohol producers quietly lobbied to keep prohibition since consumption didn't go down, the American producers were pushed out of business and import taxes went the way of the morning mist.

    Few people seem to be able to graps this, drug laws just create a situation where there's a group of people distributing drugs with a large financial incentive to expand their market.

    Want to get rid of the drug dealers? It only takes a few easy and cheap steps.
    Step 1: Provide free high quality drugs to people already addicted with no criminal penalties or consequences to people who come forward and ask for them.
    Step 2: You're basicly done, you've knocked the bottom out of the drug buisness, you are now the distributor and you have no reason to try to get more people addicted. Drug dealers can no longer make any profit out of getting kids addicted since they just go to you when it starts costing money.

    Much much much much cheaper than the massive failure that the war on drugs is.

  • Re:Excuse? (Score:3, Informative)

    by HungryHobo ( 1314109 ) on Thursday October 30, 2008 @06:05AM (#25566749)

    Thing is the know how isn't the big deal. Any decent group of physics PHDs and professors could build a bomb with the right materials. The only thing really stopping every tom dick and harry from building one is the uranium enrichment. That takes serious money and time to get working.

  • Re:Excuse? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Blue Warlord ( 854914 ) on Thursday October 30, 2008 @07:36AM (#25567197)
    Ahum that had much more todo with the historical context in which these numbers come from. You know the seventies with the hippies. It is a well established fact that drugs usage in the Netherlands is considerable lower than the European average or the USA for that matter. See [] for some hard numbers.

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