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Arms Regulations Damaging US Space Industry

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the law-of-unintended-consequences dept.

Space 184

athe!st writes "International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) are a major headache for companies trying to put their satellites into space, so much so that some companies are using 'ITAR-free' (aka free of US technology) as a selling point. The European Space Agency is trying to reduce its dependence on ITAR components, and the regulations are also threatening the nascent space tourism industry."

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184 comments

Sand Niggers In Space (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33534444)

ITAR is meant to keep Mudslums out of space - not because they smell bad (though they do), but because they are dangerous.

If Mudslums go in to space, what's to stop them from putting a spaceship bomb net to the international space station? What if they fly a space shuttle in to the DirectTV satellite?

Bottom line - Mudslums are an evil threat to the civilized world, so we're better off keeping them earth-bound.

Vote Romney - Palin 2012

Re:Sand Niggers In Space (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33534496)

Obvious Troll is obvious

Re:Sand Niggers In Space (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33534648)

So you went ahead and fed it anyways.

Re:Sand Niggers In Space (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33534708)

You jest, but the fact that the entire civilized world is on pins and needles to see if Muslims will fly off the handle over a freaking book burning speaks volumes.

This shirt is a weapon (2, Insightful)

Tekfactory (937086) | more than 3 years ago | (#33534462)

Reminds me how the Arms Controls stifled innovation and adoption in the Crypto field back in the 1990s.

Re:This shirt is a weapon (1)

DriedClexler (814907) | more than 3 years ago | (#33534726)

Does it still hinder some crypto, though? Like how Blu-Ray and DVD player encryption can't have currently-unbreakable keys, as that would make them ineligible for export under ITAR?

(And yes, I'm sure most regard this as a good thing, and not because they like to pirate movies, either.)

It's not just satellites.... (5, Interesting)

Burnhard (1031106) | more than 3 years ago | (#33534468)

Our company used to buy a certain kind of component from the US to put into the products we make. Every single one needed an export licence and an import licence. That is an export licence from the US and an import licence from the UK. If something goes wrong with the component and it needs fixing, we need an export licence from the UK and an import licence to the US to return it for fixing or replacement. Again, that replacement needs another import/export licence. That's just for traffic between the UK and the US. If you're then going to export your product to a third country, you need another export licence and possibly another import licence for that country too. It's so bad we actually hire people just to track what's going on with all of the difference licences!

To cut a long story short, we switched supplier to a European company who make similar components. Now of course we need an import licence for the US if selling to the US, but in general apart from countries like Iran, we can freely export our product without the nightmare stack of licences and yes, it is a factor you talk about when giving sales presentations.

Re:It's not just satellites.... (1)

rakuen (1230808) | more than 3 years ago | (#33534562)

Did you devote staff to keep track of the staff keeping track? After all, they might have gotten lost in a sea of licenses!

TACO SUCKS COCKS (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33534752)

Import that!!

Re:TACO SUCKS COCKS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33535320)

+ Informative

It's not just hardware (2, Informative)

Concerned Onlooker (473481) | more than 3 years ago | (#33534768)

ITAR covers such things as software, documentation for software and even a software engineer talking to someone about said software, even if what the engineer is saying is freely available in public documentation. I work at a place where we have to review ITAR and EAR (Export Administration Regulations) policies every year and at the end of the presentation they make it clear just about anything could be an ITAR violation.

Re:It's not just hardware (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33535088)

Yes, I believe that according to some of the regulations, *I* violate ITAR every time I cross the US border without filling out the requisite paperwork. That said, I rarely visit the US and have never filled out the paperwork.

Funny... I don't know why they'd put me in the same list as atomic warheads just because of information I know.... especially since I'm not even American. Then again, maybe that's the reason....

Re:It's not just hardware (4, Interesting)

Alastor187 (593341) | more than 3 years ago | (#33535152)

Where I work we deal with both EAR and ITAR equipment. Since I have been here I have seen a lot of different points of view. Currently, as I understand it, we treat any mechanical or un-programmed electrical hardware as EAR. Unless there are special circumstances (i.e. specific customer requirements).

Electrical hardware doesn't become ITAR unless it has ITAR software/firmware on it. Sub-assembly and top level drawings are EAR unless they call out a piece of hardware that is ITAR. Once a lower level drawing calls out an ITAR item all higher level assembly drawings have to be ITAR as well. While, an ITAR assembly drawing can call out either ITAR or EAR items, an EAR assembly can only call out EAR items in the BOM.

Re:It's not just hardware (4, Interesting)

volcanopele (537152) | more than 3 years ago | (#33536000)

It also affects proposals to NASA that have ANY international collaborators. When sending out various drafts, we have either ITAR-safe or ITAR-unsafe versions because foreign citizens not working in the US are not allowed to even read vague descriptions of hardware, let alone have the hardware. So for the ITAR-safe version, whole sections of the proposal have to be removed for the safety of our foreign collaborators. After all, if you know how to build a [redacted for your safety], you must be a terrorist...

Re:It's not just satellites.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33534780)

OMG you're selling ARMS to IRAN?!?!?!?!?!

Re:It's not just satellites.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33535232)

Of course, same reasoning for the second amendment and all that.

Re:It's not just satellites.... (5, Informative)

modecx (130548) | more than 3 years ago | (#33535292)

ITAR truly is an ineffective, bureaucratic cluserfuck (as if there's any other kind). Not only does it completely fail at its claimed mission, it really does hamper scientific discovery, internationally cooperative efforts for developing weapons and other technologies, and even local commerce.

submersibles, underwater robots, etc:
The Department of State (DoS from here on out) keeps close track of these because they're on a list of "munitions". Any time you want to enter foreign waters/return to the US with one of these, you need the import/export paperwork described above--or else run afoul potential criminal consequences.

Firearms related manufacturing for US-only consumption:
Besides claiming to only regulate import/export of various items of military interest, ITAR does in fact also regulate the domestic production of things like bullets, cartridges, propellants and guns, gun parts etc. etc. Manufacturers of such goods currently pay $2200 per year to register with the DoS... Even if the items will never be exported. About the only firearm related thing specifically exempted from the scope of ITAR are shotguns made expressly for sporting purposes.

Re:It's not just satellites.... (0, Offtopic)

radtea (464814) | more than 3 years ago | (#33535714)

About the only firearm related thing specifically exempted from the scope of ITAR are shotguns made expressly for sporting purposes.

Why is it that this immediately reminded me that that is exactly what Dick Cheney uses to shoot people in the face?

OMG! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33534504)

Yeah, that's pretty much the case. I used to work in an aerospace company. We liked to use the adjective ITAR'ded.

Sounds like... (1, Insightful)

HateBreeder (656491) | more than 3 years ago | (#33534514)

Some space technology company lobbying against ITAR as they would've otherwise made more money...

Sorry, I don't buy that.
There's a reason for why technology exports are regulated. If that comes at the cost of a bit less money to the aerospace companies then so be it.

However, if it's really a dumb regulation - then it should be rethought. I don't think this is the case though.

Re:Sounds like... (4, Insightful)

PPH (736903) | more than 3 years ago | (#33534624)

There's a reason for why technology exports are regulated.

And what is that? I mean aside from weapons technology that is? The down side is that it shrinks the market available to US producers. Eventually they are driven out of business when faced by foreign competitors who are free to sell to anyone. Then we (the US) have to buy from these foreign suppliers. So, what's the up side?

Re:Sounds like... (2, Interesting)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 3 years ago | (#33534820)

It's not really very hard to take a space launch system and turn it into an ICBM system, after all the opposite transition is basically how the space industry got its start int he first place (strap a capsule on the top of an ICBM and give it a bit more oomph to make orbit). Now I think that the argument is over what is and isn't commercially available from other countries without export restrictions, and whether the controls should be the same regardless of who you're selling to (does it really make sense to require the same paper work to send a rocket to the UK as it does to say Pakistan?). IMO, once a commercial equivalent to a piece of technology is available, a device should be taken off the ITAR lists, but that isn't the way the system works.

Re:Sounds like... (5, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 3 years ago | (#33535272)

Which is why our current foreign policy is complete bullshit. Rather than maintaining honest friendships and alliances, we instead seek to keep other countries in the stone age and use diplomacy only when they gain equal technology.

Rather than encouraging the development of technologies, we try to hoard them based on a stupid belief that if we do this we will prevent other countries from developing weapon technologies, instead we cripple ourselves and are a laughingstock in front of other countries.

Think of how much more we as humanity could do when artificial barriers to trade are eliminated. It doesn't make us safer, it alienates us from the rest of the world and prevents us from doing beneficial things. Rather than having an unsustainable foreign policy of making sure that no one else other than the US gets technology, we need to have alliances and diplomatic principles that make it so when countries -do- get advanced technology they won't use it against us.

Re:Sounds like... (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 3 years ago | (#33535906)

You really don't have to "think"... all you have to do is go look at the history of the US. With no possible regulations on interstate trade we made a killing in the industrial era... there was of course some growing pains which were more or less resolved, but that's beside the fact.

Re:Sounds like... (1)

Alef (605149) | more than 3 years ago | (#33535976)

What you describe I think is also the reason why the USA in particular and the western world in general are so focused on intellectual property protection at the political level. It is based on the notion that the western world has knowledge and ideas that are somehow inaccessible to the rest of the world unless they get it from us, and that we must protect them from leaking out to prevent the rest of the world to catch up and compete with us.

The reality however is that new inventions and ideas are generated every day at an amazing pace, and I wager to say that most of them appear outside of the western world. Hint: China graduates something like 300 000 new engineers each year, and they are no less intelligent than we are. Whatever exclusive knowledge we have today will be commonly available to the entire world tomorrow. The biggest losers when we try to inhibit the free exchange of knowledge and technology is not the rest of the world -- they can carry on perfectly well without our help -- the biggest losers are going to be ourselves.

Re:Sounds like... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33536004)

Rather than encouraging the development of technologies, we try to hoard them based on a stupid belief that if we do this we will prevent other countries from developing weapon technologies, instead we cripple ourselves and are a laughingstock in front of other countries.

You misunderstand the belief. The first part is not that other countries will not be able to build the same technologies, simply that some countries will not be able to build those technologies without significant resource expenditures. Do you really want North Korea to be able to build F-117s the same day that the US can?

The second part is that we don't want our enemies to be able to learn our technologies' weaknesses. For example, how do you detect an incoming F117? If there's an effective way, do you want North Korea to know? Would it be better (and for whom) if the US is able to manufacture a new stealth system that isn't affected by detecting the F117?

It doesn't make us safer,

Again, you misunderstand. Having technology that makes your military more effective *does* make you safer, after a fashion. Look back at the interaction between the Spanish conquistadors and the Incas. The conquistadors had metal armor and guns. The Incas had wooden/hide armor, spears and arrows. A single conquistador was a more effective military weapon than a single Incan soldier.

Re:Sounds like... (4, Insightful)

radtea (464814) | more than 3 years ago | (#33535838)

mean aside from weapons technology that is?

What exactly is "weapons technology"?

About 20 years ago I developed what is still the fastest, most robust image registration algorithm there is. It was the first algorithm based on sampled pixels, and predated mutual-information and other similar techniques by about three years.

I developed it for a medical application. When I realized how well it worked, I also realized it was perfectly suited to the terminal phase guidance system of a cruise missile. It ran fast enough on the commodity hardware of the time (33 Mhz 386) that it put it nicely in the price range of your average "credit card terrorist."

So far as I know, the organs of the security-industrial complex are still studiosly ignoring this reality: most technology can be adapted for to build weapons. IEDs and the like are proof of this. Never-the-less, no one suggests that cell phones and digital watches be banned, presumably because the kind of asshole that works in the security-industrial complex isn't about to give up their cell phone and digital watch, or even pay more for them.

Re:Sounds like... (3, Insightful)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 3 years ago | (#33534634)

Sometimes the policy is good and sometimes it is bad. Do you really want Iran getting a hold of the blueprints for the shuttles solid rocket boosters? Obviously not, they could be adapted in a matter of months to nefarious purposes. But then there is technology that is by no means cutting edge, in the US or anywhere, that remains on the ITAR restricted lists out of inertia, it doesn't stop enemies from getting a hold of technology, all it does is make US companies less competitive in the global marketplace.

Re:Sounds like... (1)

C0vardeAn0nim0 (232451) | more than 3 years ago | (#33535862)

if they really want those, they can buy detailed copies from the russians. do you really think the KGB or it's successor agency, the FSB, didn't invested enourmous resources in obtaining them ?

and trust me, if they could infiltrate the manhatan project, NASA was a piece of cake for them.

Re:Sounds like... (2, Insightful)

radtea (464814) | more than 3 years ago | (#33535960)

Do you really want Iran getting a hold of the blueprints for the shuttles solid rocket boosters?

Your "logic" makes no sense.

The SRBs are 35 year old tech NOW and one day they will be even more "by no means cutting edge", which you apparently have no problem publishing. Which is a good thing, because information wants to be free: one leak and the genie can never be put back in the bottle.

Everyone knows how to build nuclear weapons today. Anyone who is trying to restrict the spread of technology is pushing water uphill.

So you'd better be prepared to be safe in a world where everyone has every nasty kind of tech you can imagine. History suggests that conventional military thuggery is not the right way to go there.

You couldn't be more wrong (3, Insightful)

Tekfactory (937086) | more than 3 years ago | (#33534680)

Well if you'd read the article, it's from the Institute of Engineering Technology (what Aerospace company is that?) and the article is about electronics components, computer chips made mostly by US based manufacturers.

Now foreign governments are backing competing companies outside the US to source the same type of components in what is a growing market. The first papagraph talks about how many more sats will be launched in the next decade over the previous one.

Since most of the folks mentioned are launching outside the US anyway, no US aerospace company is losing a dime.

In the article they also say the US based components are better, so we have a market that's growing, where US based companies have the best product and people are going somewhere else because of this regulation.

If I owned a big chip company I'd move my HQ outside the US immediately if staying meant I missed out on 10 years of growth.

Do you read the headlines, do you know what growth for businesses in the US is projected to be for the next 10 years, it's not 50% more like sat launches and their electronics components are.

Re:You couldn't be more wrong (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 3 years ago | (#33534748)

Well if you'd read the article, it's from the Institute of Engineering Technology (what Aerospace company is that?)

Dunno. Who pays their bills?

Re:You couldn't be more wrong (1)

Tekfactory (937086) | more than 3 years ago | (#33534800)

Looks like they make their money from Magazine subscriptions and memberships.

From their website, they are a subsidiary of a registered charity.

IET Services Limited is registered in England Registered Office Savoy Place, London, WC2R 0BL Registration Number 909719
IET Services Limited is trading as a subsidiary of the Institution of Engineering and Technology, which is registered as a Charity in England & Wales (no 211014) and Scotland (no SC038698)

Re:You couldn't be more wrong (2, Insightful)

HateBreeder (656491) | more than 3 years ago | (#33534796)

Sounds like you're making my argument for me.

Firstly, you clearly don't know how lobbying works: You pay someone who is perceived to be objective to represent your point of view. A research grant comes to mind.

All your arguments are about how companies are losing money... or could potential grow. but you ignore the reason the regulations are there: to verify that no classified technology or weapons get in to the wrong hands.

Re:You couldn't be more wrong (1)

Tekfactory (937086) | more than 3 years ago | (#33534854)

Because clearly people at the administration and State department read UK Engineering magazines.

Re:You couldn't be more wrong (1)

HateBreeder (656491) | more than 3 years ago | (#33534924)

Public opinion is a major part of lobbying. It's on slashdot - many Americans will see this.

Re:You couldn't be more wrong (2, Interesting)

Tekfactory (937086) | more than 3 years ago | (#33535028)

Unless it makes it on CNN or FOX, I say you're wrong, Football season just started.

As another poster quoted the administration, ITAR treats the M1A1 Abrams tank brake pads as controlled exports even though they are the same brake pads used in firetrucks. Clearly the process needs going over, lots of things that were grandfathered in need to be scrubbed, and common sense applied to what is a weapon and what isn't.

Security theater doesn't make us safer, but a strong economy and industrial base does.

Re:You couldn't be more wrong (2, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#33535298)

More than that, exporting all those manufacturing jobs to places like China and India has definitely had a negative impact on our security. The Chinese government has no real incentive to cut down on industrial spying on foreign companies producing in China. Hell, they've got a huge incentive to look the other way and cover it up.

Re:You couldn't be more wrong (1)

radtea (464814) | more than 3 years ago | (#33536052)

ITAR treats the M1A1 Abrams tank brake pads as controlled exports even though they are the same brake pads used in firetrucks.

So? There is virtually no technology that does not have both productive uses and deadweight-loss uses. If you only allow technology export that has no known deadweightloss uses all you will do is encourage the deadweightloss industry outside the US to find such uses. They are likely to call such things "Improvised Explosive Devices" and the like.

Re:Sounds like... (2, Insightful)

Burnhard (1031106) | more than 3 years ago | (#33534718)

I think there's an alternative line of reasoning: if you don't export these technologies to other countries, they will either get it from your competitors or develop it themselves. So your choice is not between whether they have the technology or whether they don't, it's between whether you control their access to the technology or whether you don't.

Re:Sounds like... (1)

Myopic (18616) | more than 3 years ago | (#33535076)

if you don't export these technologies to other countries, they will either get it from your competitors or develop it themselves

Why are you ignoring the obvious goal of the law, which is that they wouldn't get it at all? We have lots of technology which, by refusing to export it, we have successfully prevented other countries from getting.

But, for simple things like mathematical calculations, I probably agree with you that they will in fact get it. Still, you blithely ignored the hoped-for possibility, which could certainly happen.

Re:Sounds like... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33535172)

Why are you ignoring the obvious goal of the law, which is that they wouldn't get it at all? We have lots of technology which, by refusing to export it, we have successfully prevented other countries from getting.

Like?

Re:Sounds like... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33535244)

He's probably thinking of nuclear weapons and the like.

Re:Sounds like... (1)

Myopic (18616) | more than 3 years ago | (#33535860)

Nukes are an okay example, even though there has been some proliferation amongst our enemies. I would point to things that are even harder to make, like long-range missiles, top-end fighter jets, high-power laser weapons, satellite technology, stealth technology, that sort of stuff.

All of those things have been successfully contained due to a policy of non-export. That's just what I can name, not really knowing very well. I imagine the list is a lot longer to those who are informed.

Re:Sounds like... (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 3 years ago | (#33535126)

You can't control access to information(design specs in this case) indefinitely. I like to think of it as probabilities. Once someone figures out how to do something new(build a fission bomb,ICBM, etc). Even if you don't tell anyhow youdid it eventually some one else knowing that it is indeeed probable to accomplish will eventuallyfigure out how you did it.

Once something has gone from improbable to a known working model. Everyone else attempting todo the same thing now knowing it can be done will find the answer as well.

Re:Sounds like... (5, Insightful)

snookerhog (1835110) | more than 3 years ago | (#33534732)

from my own experience working for a big tech company, the definitions of what is restricted are antiquated and needlessly broad. technology that was at one time almost exclusively military, is now cheap enough to be applied in numerous other ways. Take "Night vision" for example. IR cameras are now used in a myriad of applications that go way beyond seeing bad guys in the dark: automated food inspection, automotive sensors, etc.

you may find this recent article [arstechnica.com] enlightening. From the article:

The impact of export controls on the high-tech industry have caused problems for everyone from browser makers—who once ran up against restrictions on their encryption software, despite its wide availability outside the US—to hardware makers; Apple once advertised that its G4 processor fell under export control due to outdated definitions of what constituted a supercomputer. But they also affect more mundane items. In the announcement that outlines the reform efforts, the White House notes that the brake pads for the army's M1A1 tank are essentially identical to those used in fire trucks, but only the former ends up under export controls; "Under our current system, we devote the same resources to protecting the brake pad as we do to protecting the M1A1 tank itself."

Re:Sounds like... (4, Informative)

jd (1658) | more than 3 years ago | (#33534880)

There are indeed reasons why technology exports are restricted. I just can't think of any, right now.

Past restrictions included banning the Beowulf clustering technology (which caused such an uproar that the code was smuggled into Canada, and ITAR-free alternatives were developed such as MOSIX and Kerrighd) and the banning of crypto in excess of 40 bits (which, combined with RSA patents, led to the International PGP versions, but which had a severe impact on nascent e-Commerce).

During that same time, a New Zealand engineer developed a home-made cruise missile using off-the-shelf parts, a Scottish rocket club built a flying waverider airframe, the Swedish navy were designing stealth ships that were invisible to Radar and nuclear weapons research continued unabated in the Indian subcontinent.

In more recent times, the entire schematics for the Raptor were exported to Iran (where they were published online) because those dealing with actual secrets were not bothering with elementary containment procedures in order to make a fast buck off eBay.

So, yes, I can believe that ITAR has value and importance. What I cannot believe is that the things that get caught in the net are of greater significance than the things that get through. This does not mean removal of ITAR, but it does mean it should be no stronger than the US is willing or able to enforce. Otherwise it hinders allies without hurting threats. ITAR, as it stands, is also open to extreme abuse. In Britain, it is illegal to export anything to any country for the purpose of, or in the knowledge it will be used for, violating international law. Doesn't matter if the recipient is an ally, doesn't matter if the export would have been legal for any other use. Criminal cases along these lines usually don't change behaviour and don't often succeed, but they do generate some measure of accountability that simply doesn't exist in the current ITAR.

And that, ultimately, is the sole purpose of any sort of export control on militarizable technology - preventing it from being abused by the recipient. If it was going to be used sensibly and rationally, what would it matter who it was sent to? It may be entirely reasonable to assume that X is never going to be sensible or rational, but if X is likely to develop the technology soon anyway and is threatening Y who is not, then blocking the technology helps, not hinders, X. Since the US cannot police the world (it has tried!), all of these different factors need to be considered. A law that is absolutely rigid by name and not by any other criteria can never consider such factors.

I don't know what the correct solution would be, that would require considerable analysis in areas I'm not familiar enough with, but it will involve more role-based access controls and fewer fixed lists.

Re:Sounds like... (2, Interesting)

HateBreeder (656491) | more than 3 years ago | (#33535048)

There are a handful of commercial companies that can build ICBMs. You can restrict them using ITAR. it works.

Imagine if companies like boeing, raytheon and lockheed martin would be allowed to sell weapons directly to Iran or to south korea. Would make those tyrannical state's job that much more difficult.

Currently, they are indeed developing their own versions - but it's a long process and that give you time to either develop countermeasures or to somehow stop them.

Also, the first version of anything will never be as good as a polished version 20.0 of the same thing. I believe that applies to ICBMs as well.

Re:Sounds like... (1)

HateBreeder (656491) | more than 3 years ago | (#33535062)

* north korea..
* Would make those tyrannical state's job that much more *easier*.

sorry.

cute (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33535370)

It doesn't make any difference! They give the shit to Israhell, who then sell it to China, then it goes everyplace. What the *fuck* does it matter any more? Then we have Chinese students and businessmen in *every* industry and research establishment that exists here. So what the *fuck* does it matter any more?

It is fucking security theater, and anyone who isn't lying to themselves knows this. These huge armaments corporations are loyal to MONEY, that's it. There are NO secrets if the price is met, and everything is for sale. This national security bullshit is propaganda for the drools, the ones who "vote" for corrupt "party" D or R, thinking that if "their" liars and thieves get in, everything will be better. They have all been co-opted by globalist businessmen, and they give not a care to whom they do business with, and have developed any number of ways to go ahead and transfer what they need to transfer, even if it takes sixteen cutouts.

Re:Sounds like... (1)

braindrainbahrain (874202) | more than 3 years ago | (#33535240)

There are a handful of commercial companies that can build ICBMs. You can restrict them using ITAR. it works.

Imagine if companies like boeing, raytheon and lockheed martin would be allowed to sell weapons directly to Iran ...

Too late. While not a direct sale of a weapon,a trnasfer of technology has already occurred at least once. [contractormisconduct.org]

I believe the law to is well intentioned, and that most companies fully comply with the law (my employer certainly has, and by so doing has incurred large expenses and missed opportunities), but sometimes I just wonder that to some companies, breaking such a law and paying the fine is just another buseness expense.

So, is the law effective? Once the technology is "transferred" there is no getting it back, and that country we were trying to keep it from then has it forever.

Re:Sounds like... (2, Interesting)

Klync (152475) | more than 3 years ago | (#33535656)

During that same time, a New Zealand engineer developed a home-made cruise missile using off-the-shelf parts, a Scottish rocket club built a flying waverider airframe, the Swedish navy were designing stealth ships that were invisible to Radar and nuclear weapons research continued unabated in the Indian subcontinent.

Wow, to hear you tell the story, I'd say ITAR is doing a great job at driving innovation. I say keep it in place! Of course, I'm not american, either.

All kidding aside, I think it would be helpful to americans if they could distinguish between what helps their country and what helps certain powerful interests in their country. I don't see much evidence that many of you folk can.

Re:Sounds like... (4, Interesting)

Nyeerrmm (940927) | more than 3 years ago | (#33534944)

Nope. Sorry. The big aerospace companies do plenty well by suckling off of the government teat. ULA doesn't bother to sell to non-domestic customers because they know they have a near monopoly on government contracts, and dealing with ITAR is a pain. They don't need ITAR reform nearly as much as tihe small companies, who have to jump through ridiculous hoops for dumb things.

My favorite example is when Bigelow was preparing to launch one of their test habitats aboard a Russian proton. For assembly, they needed a table, so they grabbed some aluminum slabs out of their warehouse and bolted them together. Turns out this particular variety of aluminum falls under ITAR restrictions, so while in Russia, the table made out of scrap aluminum had to be watched by two armed guards at all time.

I'm not a tea-partier, I believe that in many cases good regulations make the market much more robust. However, ITAR is not good regulation. It is out of date, it places undue legal and financial burden on small startups, and partitions our space industry from the rest of the world. If we're not careful, we will become a backwater of mediocrity in the high frontier.

Looks to me like... (2, Informative)

FatSean (18753) | more than 3 years ago | (#33535248)

Looks to me like our military fetish and desire to be a world super power is stifling advancements in aerospace. This is an industry where the USA can still compete with the world. We need to cultivate this industry instead of choking it.

Re:Sounds like... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33535458)

With the current situation, small startups have to burn their seed money on pricey lawyers to prove to the Pentagon that the new Space Crowbar cannot ever be used to bash in someone's kneecaps. Between the inconsistencies, the frequently changing rules, and having to prove to the govt beyond a reasonable doubt that your new widget is utterly safe--the US has created a self-imposed embargo on the only productive area of the US economy.

Re:Sounds like... (1)

C0vardeAn0nim0 (232451) | more than 3 years ago | (#33535762)

two things comes to my mind. one is to make it more dificult for other countries to kickstart their own space programs, even if it's just for research or comercial purposes.

the other, is to keep a few large compnies like boeing and lockheed from having competition inside US. since the expense of keeping track of all those kinds of documents and regulations can be too much for small startups, only the big guys will do it, because they have the resources.

business people in US keep babling about how they're against regulation. but that's only when those reduce their bottom line. but when regulation prevents competion and increases their profit margins, the more the better.

That's right. (1)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 3 years ago | (#33535900)

There's a reason for why technology exports are regulated. If that comes at the cost of a bit less money to the aerospace companies then so be it.

That's right! And it's a good thing that the US has a monopoly on space and aviation technology that US based companies can afford to deal with these regulations. After all, EAS and other European companies, Japanese, and other Asian companies are completely incapable of competing with US companies in terms of technology and innovation.

A country wants a missile, well they can only buy from the US. Fighter jet? Same thing. Ships - anything military we're the only game in town.

even non-military. Those Dell PCs can be used to design nukalear bomms! And it's a good think PC are assembled in the US because if other countries got the technology to assemble all those Asian made components into working computers and wrote the software for it, we'd be in big trouble!

Thank God the rest of the World is sooo stupid that they can't duplicate our superior American technology!

Old News (2, Interesting)

doctor_nation (924358) | more than 3 years ago | (#33534554)

Yeah, and this has been the case since, oh, 2001? Well, at least it seems that's when it started to be enforced more strictly. I've heard rumblings that the administration was going to change it, but who knows how likely that is.

Hmmm... I wonder if we could correlate the US's drop in space proficiency with when ITAR for space components started?

ITAR is batshit insane (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33534570)

Just about anything cool is ITAR restricted.
Certain sling mounts for M4. Like it matters that some foreign country buys a slingmount.
It's not like you can't buy ITAR restricted items, you just can't buy them directly from USA. Has to be bought from shops outside USA.

Re:ITAR is batshit insane (1)

denis-The-menace (471988) | more than 3 years ago | (#33534862)

but it give clueless people the "warm and fuzzies"

-like DRM does to the MAFIAA
-like the long gun registry in Canada
-like making certain plant and chemicals illegal

It may not be perfect (2, Insightful)

sunking2 (521698) | more than 3 years ago | (#33534600)

But ITAR is responsible for keeping a lot more US jobs than it loses thanks to it's prohibitions. In a lot of places it's the only thing keeping engineering and manufacturing from being outsourced.

Re:It may not be perfect (2, Funny)

rwa2 (4391) | more than 3 years ago | (#33534790)

Yep, yay for the "job security clearance" for providing us with unexportable work opportunities. Like escorting / watching over the shoulders of uncleared contractors while they do the real work :-P Oh, and verifying all the export compliance and foreign visitor paperwork! Fun times to be had by all!

It has a multiplicative effect on the economy... sort of like how bad schools lead to more prisoners which leads to more lucrative prison warden and supply contractor jobs!

Re:It may not be perfect (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33535004)

Cite?

Re:It may not be perfect (1)

toxonix (1793960) | more than 3 years ago | (#33535036)

Thats part 2 of its two part purpose I think. I think both parts are good for jobs and security in the US, at the cost of stifling some innovation. It keeps US dollars in the military/industrial windmill, which, for the US is a good thing. Any country with a significant industrial sector wants to keep the tide of money coming in rather than going out.

Re:It may not be perfect (2, Interesting)

noidentity (188756) | more than 3 years ago | (#33535178)

Yes, because the world would be better off if every one of us lived on an island, unable to specialize.

Backwards! (2, Insightful)

FranTaylor (164577) | more than 3 years ago | (#33535540)

Engineering and manufacturing are being outsourced PRECISELY so they don't run afoul of iTAR!

We are LOSING sales and LOSING jobs and LOSING technology due to this stupidity.

Re:It may not be perfect (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33535622)

Yeah, and while we're at it, we should start breaking windows to boost the economy [wikipedia.org]!

You seem to think that jobs are zero-sum, that every job that gets outsourced to another country is a US job lost. You're wrong. By saving money in one part of the economy, the money saved can be spent in another. Sure, current jobs might be lost, but by freeing up those people, they can move on to newer and better things rather than be tied down to a part of the economy that only exists due to government interference.

Somehow this reminds me of certain tax preparation companies getting all up in arms over plans to simplify filing taxes. After all, if people were able to file their taxes online without going through a tax preparation company, jobs might be lost!

Or maybe it'd just improve the system as a whole, cost a lot less, and while some jobs might be lost, new opportunities - and, therefore, jobs - would be created.

Re:It may not be perfect (1)

tmosley (996283) | more than 3 years ago | (#33535710)

You got some numbers to back that up? I didn't think so.

You know you're in trouble when competitors have a strong selling point that they are not you.

Don't like the regulations? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33534660)

You might not like the regulations, but remember: It's all fun and games until someone nukes *you* from orbit.

Re:Don't like the regulations? (2, Insightful)

zill (1690130) | more than 3 years ago | (#33534772)

Unfortunately, for most of the world, that "someone" is the United States military.

Damaging to Academics as well (4, Interesting)

quatin (1589389) | more than 3 years ago | (#33534734)

I was part of the CubeSAT program at my university. We were designing a 1 foot x 1 foot x 1 foot satellite to be launched. To track the satellite, we needed a GPS module on board. However, due to the ITAR components on the module, the student in charge of software couldn't touch the GPS code or schematics, because he was not a US citizen.

Re:Damaging to Academics as well (1)

Myopic (18616) | more than 3 years ago | (#33535116)

So then, the law succeeded at its goal of assuring a job for an American who wanted the job instead of foreign-born labor?

You and I both might think that's silly or counterproductive, but you have to admit, the law achieved its goal.

Re:Damaging to Academics as well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33535266)

So then, the law succeeded at its goal of assuring a job for an American who wanted the job instead of foreign-born labor?

You and I both might think that's silly or counterproductive, but you have to admit, the law achieved its goal.

by Myopic (18616)

Wow, your username is clearly appropriate!!

Re:Damaging to Academics as well (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33535678)

So then, the law succeeded at its goal of assuring a job for an American who wanted the job instead of foreign-born labor?

You and I both might think that's silly or counterproductive, but you have to admit, the law achieved its goal.

Uh, no. If you think a foreign student working on a research project at the school they are paying to attend is the same as a foreign person on a work visa, then you have serious observation issues.

Work Visa Student Visa

Many discoveries at US Universities are made by people on academic visas.

Also of note: Foreign-born labor includes the Governor of California and the President of the US.
Just because you are foreign born doesn't mean that you aren't a citizen.

Re:Damaging to Academics as well (1)

Myopic (18616) | more than 3 years ago | (#33536018)

Hawaii is foreign to you? Perhaps you were just chiding.

Anyway, you make a good point, I erred by saying 'foreign-born' instead of 'foreign', which is what I meant. Thank you for helping me be clear.

And I also phrased it as an employment issue, which is also what I meant, but I left out another good point, which is that some foreign students are government agents; and both of those are risks being mitigated by the policy. Again, you and I might agree on the conjecture that the policy has more negative external outcomes than positive intended outcomes.

Re:Damaging to Academics as well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33535924)

I got this too when I was doing my thesis a few years back (just your run of the mill UAV now, was a bit edgier then). I am an Italian citizen and I didn't get credit for some of the work I did because my team (four people) only had one US citizen in it, who was the only person allowed to touch some stuff. End result, the guy did absolutely nothing but show up in the lab, browse the net and watch us (me, indian guy, mexican girl) work -- and sign off on some of the stuff we did. Well, he did do the powerpoint...

captcha: confide

Re:Damaging to Academics as well (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33535136)

GOOD, IMO if you aren't cleared to be working on sensitive US Military projects then you shouldn't be on the premises.

Broken Government and Policy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33534836)

We could each go into long diatribes about what we've learned is broken with regard to business, law, policy, or spending, when it comes to the US Government. I assume most of us have had first hand experience with one or more of these subjects, and have recognized its shortcomings from all sides of its implementations. That being said, I pose this question to the /. community:

What implementation has the US Government gotten right? What procedure, has all sides of the equation, all parties that it effects or has a hand in its implementation, pleased with its inception and execution? To put simply, what 'problem' have we solved permanently?

Perhaps this is too broad a question, and absolutes are not how Government should work. However, with the historical progression this country has taken, is it now even possible to implement effective policy and design so that every variable is taken into consideration. To make it equitable to all parties involved?

Sums it up (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33534932)

Pretty much sums up the US government in general...useless regulations that make every-day life a PITA for law abiding citizens and don't really stop criminals from doing anything. Like the way we have to have drivers license, birth certificate, and a note from mom to buy an allergy tablet, yet you can go pretty much anywhere and still buy meth.

Part of our constant ethics training on the job .. (1)

quax (19371) | more than 3 years ago | (#33534970)

... contained how to conform to US export restrictions. The regulations are ludicrous and it is extremely easy to run afoul. E.g. having a foreign visitor glimpsing a concept at a whiteboard can be counted as an export of classified ideas.

I worked in Germany, the US and now Canada for the same employer. I can legally work in all these places. One thing is for sure - if I ever start my own shop it won't be in the US. Any meaningful business has to be global these days and the US is just not as open to that than either Canada or Europe.

I thank you for :your time (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33534992)

people playing can I'm discussing Parties). At THE Join in. It can be may be hu8ting the forwards we must here, but what is Completely before superior to slow, Turd-suckingly followed. Obviously it transforms into obtain a copy of their parting keep, and I won't To the original

Old Issue (2, Interesting)

rhkaloge (208983) | more than 3 years ago | (#33535154)

ITAR has been around for my 10 years in space systems and was around before me. European companies are just using it as an excuse to award European only contracts to kill off American competitors. It's actually been greatly improved in recent years, with a majority of commercial space components being put under the Commerce Dept rather than ITAR.

Re:Old Issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33535728)

I'm with you. I was in the space systems business for 7 years and I work with these regulations. People have been running the same article with the same statement for as long as I can remember. It is coming to fruition though and apparently old wrongs die hard in Europe. The main issue is that still the key technologies that are at issue should be licensed for sale and transfer around the world. I'd see key technologies as being encapsulation of payloads in rockets, payload balancing, telemetry tracking and control hardware and techniques (especially those that are used in both ICBM warfare as well as for satellites), That's pretty much it.

The biggest problems with satellites is that a sale of a geostationary satellite to a foreign person today still requires Congressional approval (due to its value) and though people can get a license for cooperative development and design there are provisos that come with the license that have massive requirements. Those post-license provisos are some of the biggest problems in the ITAR licensing schema the U.S. has. Especially in major areas of concern like space and nuclear the post-licensing monitoring is the part that aggravates and confuses foreign development partners. The license itself, except for whole satellites, isn't that hard to obtain and is largely transparent to the end-user.

Can I also add here that Europeans complain and argue about everything the U.S. does? C'mon you know it's true. They have the same damned rules as the U.S., they just ignore them. Partly because they can ge away with it and partly because their licensing is less onerous. Look up the Wassenar Arrangement. The EU isn't exempt. They just circumvent things they don't like and complain about any effort the U.S. makes to implement the Arrangement that we all signed up to.

Embraer KC-390 (4, Interesting)

florescent_beige (608235) | more than 3 years ago | (#33535190)

Brasil is developing a C-130-class military transport with no US technology in it specifically to get around ITAR. Scuttlebutt is that Venezuela is the driver but it wouldn't surprise me if most countries are tired of the US sticking their nose in.

Imaging Space Piracy (1)

bigmike_f (546576) | more than 3 years ago | (#33535212)

After a quick read of the article, my mind associated weapons, space, and piracy. I was transported back to thoughts of GIJoe [imdb.com] and Ice Pirates [imdb.com]. Good Times!

U.S. administration says export controls = problem (2, Informative)

dwheeler (321049) | more than 3 years ago | (#33535308)

Actually, the U.S. administration has already admitted that the current export control system is messed up. In April 2010 U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates called for a major overhaul of America’s export control regime, saying the current system is outdated, hurts America’s competitiveness, and does not adequately protect national security [parabolicarc.com]. Of course, admitting there's a problem is not the same as making a change that solves it (or makes it better), but at least they know there are problems and are trying to find solutions. I particularly like this part: "One major culprit is an overly broad definition of what should be subject to export classification and control. The real-world effect is to make it more difficult to focus on those items and technologies that truly need to stay in this country. Frederick the Great’s famous maxim that “he who defends everything defends nothing” certainly applies to export control."

Business as usual for the Top Dog Superpower (1, Flamebait)

durrr (1316311) | more than 3 years ago | (#33535384)

This is perfectly in line with Standard Superpower Policy. The superpower(s) will always strive to maintain and crystallize the status quo. And in the grand quest of doing so they will continually mess shit up while stacking layers of beurocracy on beurocracy until what should be an hourglass shaped hierarchy looks more like a pyramid balancing on its top.

Big fucking suprise things reach a tipping point with such a distribution of mass.
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