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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 overshoot ( 39700 ) on Wednesday October 29, 2008 @08:27PM (#25563497)
    were commodities readily available elsewhere but restricted, like standard cryptographic algorithms, from export from the USA -- even if they were originally imported?
  • by MightyYar ( 622222 ) on Wednesday October 29, 2008 @09:15PM (#25563939)

    as it already caused famines in Africa

    First of all, I don't think it's ever been used commercially - much less "caused a famine".

    Second of all, how is it different from selling standard hybrid seeds, where most of the offspring is junk anyway?

  • Re:And the Answer Is (Score:5, Interesting)

    by s_p_oneil ( 795792 ) on Wednesday October 29, 2008 @09:29PM (#25564065) Homepage
    I'm going to have to go with AC there. They're not just talking about software. They're talking about physical pieces of military hardware being stolen. And in the case of software, it's military software to run that hardware. If you think it would help to make stealing legal, I wouldn't mind visiting your house to see what you've got that's worth taking. ;-)
  • by Geoffrey.landis ( 926948 ) on Wednesday October 29, 2008 @09:42PM (#25564199) Homepage

    But this [] is surely a US invented technology... and IMHO nothing to be proud of, as it already caused famines in Africa...

    According to the link you gave, "The technology was under development by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Delta and Pine Land company in the 1990s and is not yet commercially available. "

    If it's never been used, how could it already have caused famines?

  • Re:but... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Fluffeh ( 1273756 ) on Thursday October 30, 2008 @02:49AM (#25565921)
    What I meant to ask really is I would love to know what the world would be like if everyone decided to do away with their sticks.

    Would a lack of big sticks effectively breed out the smaller sticks? Would there be a need for someone to go make a medium stick if there wasn't anyone with a bigger stick to start with?

    To make a less vague example: If the US spent the money it has on the War in Iraq/Afghanistan on humanitarian efforts in those exact same countries would there still be such a level of insurgency and resentment or would the common people whose lives would have been vastly improved weeded out the problems themselves? I mean, why are those people turning to extremism? If I didn't have water to drink, food to eat, a hospital for when I was sick I could easily be turned to go "fight the enemy". If I had those things given to me (or access to them in the first place) I can't imagine myself able to be stirred up to that level of rage at all. I sometimes think different to others, but rather than focusing so much on putting out the fire, why can't people spent more focus on finding out why the fire started in the first place?
  • by blackcoot ( 124938 ) on Thursday October 30, 2008 @03:19AM (#25566031)

    as someone on the other side (us citizen working on ITAR restricted technologies / programs that _require_ collaborating with foreign nationals), i can vouch for just how massive a pain-in-the-ass ITAR is:

    i can't talk to foreign national colleagues about anything other than the weather.
    i can't deal with foreign vendors.
    i can't buy parts from foreign companies unless we have import licenses on file.
    i can't get support without first having to filter all questions through a company export officer.
    i can't ship equipment for repair if it has to leave the us (novatel, i'm looking at *you*)
    i can't share interface definitions or software process documents without an export license.

    really, the restrictions verge on the absurd, especially when you consider that the papers describing most of the interesting technologies that i work on are published in international journals and freely available, often themselves as a result of gov't funded research.

  • Re:Excuse? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by plague3106 ( 71849 ) on Thursday October 30, 2008 @09:11AM (#25567833)

    Huh? Whoever said the goal was to get people to stop using drugs? The goal is to end the violence, save the huge taxpayer cost, and stop the other dangers (such as cutting coke with rat poison), not to get people to stop.

  • by Almost-Retired ( 637760 ) on Thursday October 30, 2008 @12:32PM (#25571167) Homepage

    Allowing Hitachi America to get away with exporting a multiaxis milling machine complete with the software to drive it. Up till then, the screws on russian subs were so noisy, and each sub had their own unique noise signature that our hydrophone listening devices scattered about the ocean could identify what sub was backing out of the docks on the russian north coast by the time it had moved 100 yards. This was in the height of the cold war. Our subs OTOH could move at classified speeds underwater so quietly that if their sonars didn't catch the ping, they never knew we were within miles, let alone the few yards away that we actually were. In one instance, we caught one of theirs off the Carolina coast, and he found he was 'made' so he went to the bottom to wait us out. But we had air recyclers they didn't. When he tried to blow the tanks and surface for air, he found our sub sitting on him. I don't think he heard it when the hulls made contact & we kept silent. Held him down for another bit of time just to make the point, then beat him to the surface. That sub captain probably went home to a firing squad because he allowed that to happen.

    Within a year or two of that machines exportation by Hitachi America, the russian subs suddenly started getting as quiet as ours. So our hydrophones became worthless as we couldn't hear them anymore. But by then, the cold war was winding down. And that was just one of the reasons we won that war.

    Hitachi? Got a slap on the wrist, where the actual act should have been treason charges & a trip to ACE Hardware for some new rope.

    That seemed to take the heart out of any reason to keep Phil Zimmerman jailed, so he was released after a while, I suspect with instructions to add a back door to PGP, which is the reason I personally have never used a newer than 2.6.2 release. And haven't used that in years as I no longer care what my government thinks of me since its so plain they think I'm just another of the sheeple. All they have to do is wait for me to fall over (74 and diabetic now) and they won't be out a dime.

    It all boils down to its not being who you know, its who you blow. Very abundantly proven by the facts. Sigh...

    Cheers, Gene

All science is either physics or stamp collecting. -- Ernest Rutherford