Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?
United States

U.S. Significantly Lowers Export Limitations 73

nevets writes: "The White house has announced yesterday that it will significantly change the export limitations on computers. Because of the increasingly availability of computers and clustering capabilities, the U.S. has decided that it can't keep up their policies with the changing technology. The export limitations are going from a four tier system to a three tier, with tier 1 and 2 merging, tier 3 changing, but tier 4 will stay the same." While the new rules still base their country-by-country distinctions on the basis of how many millions of theoretical operations per second (MTOPS) a computer can do, they do seem slightly saner. wiredog points out this story at The Washington Post as well.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

U.S. Significantly Lowers Export Limitations

Comments Filter:
  • It takes a long time for the technical reports to make their way through the system and turn into policy. Beowulf clusters were mentioned by name as a technology that makes the old hardware-based scheme irrelevant.
  • Hopefully, these reductions will be enough to spark the tepid computer market. It is becoming more difficult to sell computers in the U.S. as saturation increases.

    To those who are worried about this technology falling into the wrong hands, remember, information and education are the enemies of despotism and the cornerstones of freedom. Encouraging the spread of information will increase the demand for Democracy worldwide.

  • No but Saddam will use his mighty Mirage fighter jets sold to him by... France!

    In the mid 80s, France got a free test of their military arms in the iran-iraq war when they were supplying both sides of the border...

    I somehow doubt that availability of comptuting equipment has any impact on weapon systems... a PS2 is quite far away from a missile guidance system... they'd be better off buying Shark DSPs and using those. Plus they're cheaper.

  • by gmhowell ( 26755 ) <> on Thursday January 11, 2001 @12:24PM (#513656) Homepage Journal
    Sounds like when I returned from .ca last year (after honeymoon).

    "Do you have any illegal weapons?"
    "Do you have any illegal drugs?"


    It's probably to allow for an additional charge (lying to an immigration officer or some such crap) during a possible prosecution.

    Of course I answered truthfully. Only a moron would screw around with these people. Like a story I read in a motorcycle magazine: guy wanted a Canada only bike to bring into the US. He was a smart ass at customs, and got to wait another day because some of his paperwork wasn't in order. My guess is that if he had been pleasant and not flippant, he had a good chance at going through, even if he didn't dot all his 'i's and cross all his 't's.

  • The deadliest weapons in existence had been developed without sophisticated computers or software. Even the fastest computer in the 50s had less processing power and memory than a Palm Pilot.

  • "Today, communism is completely gone from the world stage" Last I heard, China and Cuba were still very much communist, and Russia has been making movements back toward it's old government.
  • What i wanna know is when they are going to relax export laws on encryption. The internet makes preventing the flow of data impossible. I mean, I like the fact that OpenBSD has hardly any american influence, but you have to wonder whether or not they can take full advantage of the many americans who probably love OpenBSD for what it is.

    IIRC OpenBSD doesn't let americans work directly on the project (or at least for the cryptography parts) because Theo wants to follow the laws of all the countries, and if those countries lose out, it's thier problem.

  • by heikkile ( 111814 ) on Thursday January 11, 2001 @01:41PM (#513660) Homepage
    I don't really understand all this US politics, but to me it sounds like they are saying that last year a top notch PC could have been used to design a bomb that was a real danger to the U.S. This year, everyone can buy those computers from te far east, so there is no point in regulating them. Now they try to regulate some unspecified software that may allow the nasty guys to develop even nastier bombs that are an even greater threat to the U.S.

    The thing I do not understand is this: Has the U.S. defence system get so much better that the dangerous bomb of yesteryear is no threat today?

    If (say) Southern Swahililand could have developed a serious weapon last year with last years computers, how come today this is not worth worrying about, but a theoretical possibility of developing double as big bomb is?

    if anyone wanted to take out Washington DC, they'd just ship in an old-fashioned bomb in a container. If anyone wanted to defend against an US invasion, they'd just bury the same old-fashioned bomb in the ground, retreat, and let it detonate when US troops were over it. No high-tech required! To rephrase: What is USA afraid of? There has been enough serious weapons to worry about for at least 30 years. So far none have been used against USA or its allies.

  • It's nice to see some non-braindamage regulations emerging from Washington for once. Don't get used to it, tho. If nothing else, this indicates that the government realizes that the economy of the last several years has been driven largely in part by technology purchases. Now that the primary growth market for server/highended workstations is going to be overseas, we can look for computer hardware companies to start competing on component and upgrade prices in the U.S. and Canada rather than trying to sell sub $500 PC's. I can't wait!

  • that Saddam Hussein can now have all the PS2's he wants?

    Doesn't matter.
    Those aren't made in the USA.
    And Japan, Taiwan, Korea don't have those kind of import and export rules.
    Again, the US is almost the only country which restricts the export and import of supercomputers.
    So, they are as always make an arse of themself.
    Japanese computer manufactorers found a way to sell US company's without the 100% import tax.
    Sell them and run them from Japan.
    No US import tax and US firms can buy supercomputers.
    The only thing most US laws like the export limitation of strong encryption and supercomputers do is lowering the sales.
    Very good for Asian and European company's.
    But not so good for the US economy.
  • by SirSlud ( 67381 ) on Thursday January 11, 2001 @12:36PM (#513663) Homepage
    Absolutely agree.

    It's the same old joke .. the US grabbing and clutching, hording and not playing nice when most of the hardware is available outside the US, and most of the software /could/ be built outside the US.

    I'll never understand the mentality .. the longer they treat the 'kid bullies' of the world like kids, the longer those 'kid bully' countries will stay kids. It's that holier than thou attitude .. ie, "We can act responsibly with our terribly dangerous super-computing powers and weapons (cha'right), but the rest of the world can't. Well, except for Canada, but thats only cause we could kick their ass in a microsecond if they ever started to misbehave."

    Just the opinions of lone Canadian, who's seen red (tape) for way to much of his existance.
    If something has never been said/seen/heard before, best stop to think about why that is.
  • All you have to do to show that US Gov't that export restrictions are ridiculous is tell them how easy it would be for programmers anywhere from india to iraq to code up a project that claims to be doing some altruistic cause while it does nuclear simulations instead.

    If you cant access the processing power, have the processing power come to you!
  • That's an excellent point (and I like the Sim's jab!). Looking at this from the 'what do they fear?' perspective, you are 100% in the right.

    The US Gov't fears other nations using supercomputers to develop higher yield nukes. It is my understanding that much of the code in the field of implosion characteristics is, shall we say, cycle intensive and highly customized. So you're right, you can't buy it in the store!

    I was thinking more of a few years ago when we would hear the FBI drone on and on about how they can't fight the drug war without export controls on high encryption, blah blah blah. My comment was really more along this line of reasoning.

    ... however, I would like to see a Platoon of Iraqi Red Guard try to rocket jump over a tank...

    -- Cheers,
    -- RLJ

  • So the US has decided to change their ridiculous policy to be slightly less ridiculous, but still ridiculous. Great.

    It always grabbed me as insane anyway. Particularly the software ones. What's to stop a diplomat in Washington popping out to his local Egghead or whatever and picking up whatever is restricted and sticking it in the diplomatic bag back home? I mean, duh!
  • One Chinese nuclear weapon scientist recalled that they had teams of mathmaticians doing calculations manually in the early days of research. This is the only way they can get around the problem that they do not have computers in calculation.

    I don't know how complicate today's computer is and how powerful it is. But what's the most important resource is the brainpower. Given enough brainpower, the lack of fast computers is not going to be a problem.

    Export restriction is to prevent powerful weapon technology falls on to the hands of assholes, just like security measures of computers and networks on the internet are to prevent script kiddies and malicious crackers. You won't put security measures to the level that nobody can use your system. A country shouldn't put up export restriction to the level that hurts herself in all aspects.

    The original export restriction is a joke. Some ways of export restriction are still needed, though whether the current change is effective and helpful subjects to some debates.
  • by EnderWiggnz ( 39214 ) on Thursday January 11, 2001 @11:43AM (#513668)
    seriously... i read the announcement, and instead of controlling pure hardware, and rating based on the overall performance of the hardware, they changed it to be software based.

    I.E. it may fsck with the Beowulf cluster sales... because now, since they are all strung together, they may be fast enought to fall under export controls.

    so ... this could be a blow to upstart beowulf companies that want to expand into shipping overseas.

    i dont know... it seems like the govt. is actually becoming MORE restrictive here... whilst saying that they are easing controls...


  • by Hobart ( 32767 ) on Thursday January 11, 2001 @11:44AM (#513669) Homepage Journal
    In the ZDNET article about these restrictions [] was this absolutely hilarious paragraph:

    However, Iraq already has figured out how to get around the restrictions. Followers of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein reportedly bought 1,400 PlayStation 2 units last year with the intent of developing a military system with the chips they contain. The gaming machines aren't subject to the same export rules as computers.

    I'd think they're more interested in unlocking Kasumi's costumes than flying some ramshackle Emotion-engine missiles around.
  • According to the White House announcement, all the Tier 2 countries move to Tier 1, so I guess that Tier 2 will be empty (for now). The announcement doesn't discuss what the restrictions of Tier 2 are; they probably haven't changed.

  • by Mignon ( 34109 ) <> on Thursday January 11, 2001 @11:46AM (#513671)
    Addressing the growth in hardware capabilities, the report says The review ... sought to address the realities of the computer market, including ... the advancements in interconnection capabilities that allow end-users to network large clusters of computers.

    So that's government-speak for "Imagine a Beowulf cluster of these!"

  • by shinji1911 ( 238955 ) on Thursday January 11, 2001 @11:46AM (#513672)
    why we've had any restrictions at all. It's like export restrictions on crypto (which is just NSA propaganda to make us think they're weaker than they really are...) -- utterly uselss in reality.

    I mean, all the hardware in my computer seems to be manufactured outside the US anyway, and very little is even assembled here, let alone manufactured. If a malcontent really wanted the teraflops, would they really have to get it from the US?
  • the restrictions will soon be found to be useless. can anyone else see it:

    foreign dictators hire some programmers to make terror@home the distributed computing project. people download the terror@home client and crunch numbers for leaders of terrorist states. 10 lucky participants are selected monthly and sent samples of biological and chemical weapons to use at their own discression along with a gift certificate to best buy where they can pick up another computer that can run the terror@home client.

    use LaTeX? want an online reference manager that
  • ...who saw that the White House link went to a directory called "hot_releases" and immediately formed a mental image of something called "Washington's Wildest Interns"?
  • So, does this mean that the export-a-crypto-system [] in my (email) sig is no longer civil disobedience?

    • export-a-crypto-system-sig RSA-2-lines-PERL
      print pack"C*",split/\D+/,`echo "16iII*o\U@{$/=$z;[(pop,pop,unpack"H*",<>
      )]}\EsMsKsN0[lN*1lK[d2%Sa2/d0<X+d*lMLa^*lN%0]ds Xx++lMlN/dsM0<J]dsJxp"|dc`

    Seriously, though, is it?

    Alex Bischoff

  • by Bradley ( 2330 ) on Thursday January 11, 2001 @11:51AM (#513676)
    I'm an exchange student from australia in .ca now, and I tried to buy a computer from a large online retailer with a credit card with a postal address in Australia. A few hours later I get a phone call. Because I don't live in North America (even though the computer was being delivered to an address in Canada), I had to go through a whole set of export control questions: "Do you intend to use this device for nuclear or biological warfare?", "Do you intend to manufacture chemical weapons with this computer?", etc etc. The person on the other end was very appologetic about it, but still...

    I didn't ask him if anyone ever said yes to those questions.
  • Political motivation is all about not having what the other guy has and doing what you can to even the playing feild. If you cannot you have to make due with what you have availiable to you.
    Case in point in regards to the middle eastern countries. Do we really know whats going on over there? Has anyone here actually been to iraq? How do we know this whole deal with suddam hussain isn't just another attempt at the goverment trying to get political support from the people when we go to war?
    Ok so let me bring you to my point. It is possible that saddam would use these machines to build weapons and make big boom things blow up. It could also be possible he just wants them for geological calculations on his oil fields and our goverment is trying to hide the truth. Think about all our veterans that returned with gulf war syndrome. Headaches, nausia, arthritis all over, yet the .gov insists no monkey business went on over there. My guess is there might be a big coverup going on in regards to the export too.
    Maybe he just wants to surf the web, who knows? Anyone remember General Kadaffi? He was Suddam Hussain before there was a Suddam Hussain. Yet in the last 10 years he has been rebuilding his country, bringing water to the desert, giving land to his people, medical and welfare programs which have greatly improved conditions.
    I think there is something Hussain has that the goverment wants. It could be oil, could be plutonium deposits, could be camels for all I know. Point is they're starving the country to death by putting all these trade restrictions and embargo's on them. This article made me think back to another article a few weeks back about atari800 computers still being used in russia for heart monitoring. I would imagine most of the middle eastern countries are worse off because they purchased most of what they have from the old USSR. I think it is inhumane to deny another human the absolute best in medical technology.
    By lifting the ban on exporting powerfull computers it would open up a world of new possibilities for them. If we lifted all the bans there would be nothing to fight about at all (unless like I said, .gov wants something in return) I could see that country becoming the next malaysia, a middle eastern version of silicon valley.
    In retrospect, I can allmost understand why Iraq hates us so much. We've blocked the import of more than just computers, between the US and the UN we've managed to block food, medicine, clothing, just about anything you can think of.
    I'd suggest everyone check out the food-for-oil stuff here tm#obstruction . It basically sums up all of the american goverment motivations.

  • And there I was, afraid that if I got the new portable [], I wouldn't be able to take it with me whenever I travel. I just have to con my work into buying it for me.
  • What's to keep any foreign national from chartering a flight to the US, wandering into Egghead, getting what they want, and returning to any of the Tier 4 countries?

    I have a feeling the software export restrictions were not instated to keep the kind of software Egghead sells from leaving American soil. I mean, who really cares if some fascist dictator gets his filthy hands on The Sims, Word Perfect, or Clean Sweep 2000? That's right, nobody. A very jingoistic individual might make a case for Quake 3 and the like ("They might learn advanced battle tactics!"), but... c'mon.

    These restrictions are as far as I can tell focused on the kinds of software that you can't buy in the store. As the parent post pointed out: snooping software, high-level encryption, and weapon-focused CAD (a stretch). The kind of stuff that's sold by contract, is usually highly customized and proprietary, and remains in use by organizations for more than 15 years.

    I suppose one could make a case with browsers, what with built-in encryption and what-not. I guess my point stands, because you can't buy that crap in stores anymore. :)

  • when we would hear the FBI drone on and on about how they can't fight the drug war without export controls on high encryption

    Well, damn, I'd hate to see the FBI unable to combat drugs. If those cartels nabbed some encryption, boy -- we might even start to lose that war! Can't be having that. Must... fight... drugs... Citizens... have no... willpower...

    "Put em up, pu-put em up!"
    "If I were the king of the forrrest..."

    Milosevic might learn that if you run diagonally, you go faster. Bad news all around.

  • Oh.. Well.. again...

    When U.S. companies have problems in exporting their goods, U.S. goverment decide this kind of things and blocks other nations' capability, especially South Korea.

    Korean steel companies and semiconductor companies will have problems this year, because of U.S. goverment's act on them. ( Again! )

    Didn't the U.S. say "Free Trade"?
    Now a days, it seems to me that U.S. controls market more than Korea controls market. Hmm..
  • Not that I can think of a better one right now.

    We all know that if you take enough low-powered machines, of the sort that anyone can get hold of, such as low-end pentiums, even 486's, etc. and stick them in a big enough warehouse, you can build machines that will out-compute any commercially available off-the-shelf single supercomputer. You only have to look at the Stone SouperComputer [] to see what is possible.

    Hopefully, Saddam hasn't got the hang of /bin/bash yet...
  • > "Do you have any illegal weapons?"
    > "Do you have any illegal drugs?"

    > Duh.

    > It's probably to allow for an additional charge
    > (lying to an immigration officer or some such
    > crap) during a possible prosecution.

    IANALO (I Am Not A Law Officer), but I'll bet
    they ask those questions not for your answer
    (which will of course be "No") but to gauge
    your reaction to being asked it (how good a poker
    player are you...?).

    Chris Mattern

  • The change in regulations comes directly from the realization that while the US Govt. used to be able to control the distribution of fast computers, they can't any longer (probably haven't been able to for quite some time). It has nothing to do with last years bombs being less dangerous or more defendable-against than they were last year.

    There has been enough serious weapons to worry about for at least 30 years. So far none have been used against USA or its allies.

    Wrong! Any number of "serious" weapons were used against the US and her allies in Irag. Sure, the US had bigger toys, but that's the idea behind limiting the spread of hardware/software. We (the US) don't like playing fair; it costs more American lives. So what's the US afraid of? China with stealth fighters, Korea with ballistic missiles, and the middle east with biowarfare capbilities. All those can be helped (and hidden) with fast computers and cryptographic software.
  • Nobody ever said crooks are smart. They only catch the dumb ones...
  • What makes you think that coming to the USA with H1B in one's pocket may get a person exposed to "Advanced Techniques"?


  • The article, you have mentioned was about Czech Republic I believe. Knowing a bit about the country I would rather assume, it is something from 'oddly enough' column, rather then a rule.

    Besides, denying another human being the absolute best in medical technology is not considered inhuman. It is the very essence of what makes the big pharma so profitable.


  • Costs to companies should go lower, because now they won't have to deal with all the limits on both marketing and distribution. They should also be able to reach a broader market. Good news all around.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    You are in direct violation of US Penal Code Chapter 34, subsection 68b.2.d paragraph 6: possesion of the assumption that the United States operates in a sane and reasonable manner.

    You will be tried by a kangaroo court (we'll add in a wallaby if you lawyers so request - but only if they are paid more than the GNP of Swaziland) and sentenced to death, or to wear tweed flannel pants in public - whichever causes your parole officer, at her sole discretion, to laugh more.

    *sigh* It's so sad to see otherwise fine young men turn to a life of senseless rationality.

  • During the cold war we had "1st world", "2nd world", and "3rd world" countries. First-world ones were western-style democracies like ours that fought on our side. Second-world ones were communist countries like the USSR and the eastern "bloc", who opposed us. And third-world countries were the countries not immediately involved in the conflict, like in South America.

    Today, communism is completely gone from the world stage, and the old "$ord world" classification is obsolete. But the information age is upon us and is now defining our new political and social interactions in a global sense. I propose that we update our vocabularies with this new tiered classification which is rooted in the very machines that will drive our new economies. For future generations, it'll be much more important to know whether countries have or had access to the latest and greatest imports from the US technology giants than whether they had a particular stance on a silly thing like communism.
  • I agree with your assessment of the article, but I disagree with your statement that this is 'a practical matter.'

    I personally, and I believe I am not alone, think it is a waste of gov't time to try and stem the tide of software beyond US borders. What's to keep any foreign national from chartering a flight to the US, wandering into Egghead, getting what they want, and returning to any of the Tier 4 countries? Granted, it's sometimes difficult to physically get here, but there's always your brother's wife's cousin who lives in the states. You could have him e-mail you a copy of X, Y Z software.

    I'm not trying to be argumentative, I'm just saying that applying the export controls philosophy to the software arena smells like a problem brewing to me. I think we need different and better thinking on the subject.

    -- RLJ

  • by cananian ( 73735 ) on Thursday January 11, 2001 @11:58AM (#513692) Homepage
    But how does this affect Apple's "supercomputer" advertising taglines?
  • a standard question to get even low level clearance is 'have you ever attempted to use force to overthrow the u.s. government?' i bet that one gets a lot of yesses. (i am tryink to blow up your contry, but pleece geef me cleerence anyway).
  • by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Thursday January 11, 2001 @12:00PM (#513694) Homepage Journal
    Seems to me that H1B visas would expose more foreign software developers to the "Advanced Techniques" that the government seems to think that this country has. Controlling the software in question without controlling the flow of the software developers wouldn't buy you a whole lot.
  • I think it is long overdue for the gov't to give up it's farcical policies on regulating encryption and supercomputers.

  • Well, software exports are much harder to control (border guards can't randomly inspect large shipments, because the large shipments could easily be encrypted. And you only need to get one shipment through, and then potentially everyone has a copy). So how long until they decide that this software-control thing won't work (unless maybe if they install back doors into the most powerful software).
  • I understand this as a practical matter, but I wonder whether the US is the only country that has such software.

    Yup, that's the arrogant part of the equation. The risk is that we'll fall behind the rest of the world as more and more software is developed in countries without such laws.

    BTW, a user submitted this story to Poliglut yesterday, so politically minded folks might be intersested in stopping by and seeing our other stuff.


  • Seems to me that H1B visas would expose more foreign software developers to the "Advanced Techniques" that the government seems to think that this country has.
    I doubt that H1B visas are awarded to programmers from countries that have the serious restrictions on them (the Tier 4 countries). As for India and Pakistani H1B recipients, I hardly think that we should be worrying about their countries getting, say, nuclear weapons, anymore...
  • IANAL (I know, everyone says this just before delivering sage wisdom), but it seems to me that it's not a blow to Beowulf at all. You buy ten machines, all slow enough to pass under the wire, and then you put then together yourself. The software isn't designed specifically for a certain speed, and the machines don't have a specific use as Beowulf cluster machines. Anyway, a single cluster (no matter how big) is not a single machine, which means that it can't be treated as a single machine. I think that the restictions therefore won't apply.

  • Exactly what do you mean "Today, communism is completely gone from the world stage"? Or that the "$ord world" classification is obsolete? The Chinese goverment, despite extreme inconsistency in policy, is a Communist nation (and, in case you missed the news, the most populous nation in the world). There are several states in various nations with Marxist or Communist administrations. The Third World, originally coined by French writers in the 50s, has become more synonymous with the periphery of a capitalist world system. This periphery, of course, is where most people live. Many of the nation-states in the Third World have a very ambivalent relationship with capitalism. So perhaps before you dismiss "a silly thing like communism", you should examine why you're so patronizing and a culture chauvanist. What do you mean by communism? The U.S.S.R. implemented a centralized, state socialism; the workers never owned their means of production. And before you discuss the obsolescence of such classification, you should note that it still articulates the average American view of the world--even if that view is astonishingly ignorant. Additionally, the whole global information age thing is not part of a new paradigm; it's been around for a long time, at least since technological developments in communications and travel in the seventeenth century and onwards. This change in the tiering of import/exports is a response to corporate lobbying, and not a recognition of some new "paradigm". And don't think this will be some type of free-market either; guess which region of the world this most benefits? Hmmm...
  • Since when did the whitehouse have anything to do with the legislative process other than the power to veto? The legislative powers involved in creating and passing laws was dealt to the Senate and Congress, not the Fuhr last time I checked.

    With the whitehouse (executive branch) announcing this has been done is pure obfuscation. Its taking credit for actions done by another branch of government. Thats like claiming the executive branch is solely responsible for all economics. Oh wait! It already does even though the executive branch's only economic power is to request funds from Congress. Oh well...

  • Alphas==over-hyped, overrated, under-supported architecture.

    If they are building "beowulf" computers, then why the heck would they want to build them around something as cost-inneffective as alphas? Why not use tbirds? Easier and cheaper, and more power for the $$$.
  • I had to go through a whole set of export control questions: "Do you intend to use this device for nuclear or biological warfare?", "Do you intend to manufacture chemical weapons with this computer?"

    It is fortunate that this procedure is in place and that people do not ever lie. Otherwise, the sale of computers might be a risk to world security.

  • mean, all the hardware in my computer seems to be manufactured outside the US anyway, and very little is even assembled here, let alone manufactured. If a malcontent really wanted the teraflops, would they really have to get it from the US?

    Nope, they wouldn't. That's really why the administration is lifting the ban. If anyone could reasonably argue that the ban met any national security objective, it would still be in place.

    Its similar to the arguments for lifting the restriction on crypto. If you can't put the genie back in the bottle, you may as well make sure that U.S. companies are not weakened by trade restrictions that only serve to restrict their ability to compete internationally.
  • Rock on!

    I saw the ads. The TV told me that the G4 pulled so many flops it was a "supah-computer" and there were export restrictions and whatnot on it.

    That's how I knew I had to buy that supah-l337 bad boy. The TV would never lie to me. Jeff Goldbloom has no motivation to mislead me.


    If you doubt me, click here ... []

  • All these restrictions are based on stupid decisions. I am from India, and as far as I know we have not all been affected by the sactions imposed earlier. Let me tell you an incident. When the sanctions were imposed after the nuclear tests, we called our supplier in US of A for certain equipment (I dunno how, but it fell into military level) and the person replied. "I am sorry , due to the export restrictions, we can't hand you the equipment, however you can certainly have it from out korea's office." Now who was affected. Your industry only. We got the part anyways. Same goes with software. you can download the patches for encryption from norway. So what's the point spending all the public money in enforcing these stupid and short sighted sanctions.
  • We don't need those stupid computers... We have out own supercomputers to do nuclear simulations and they are being exported to even USA .. Yes it's a fact
  • I think that simple icmp protocol can do more damage. :)
  • I'm an Indian and dont consider myself a patriot. Except when I see Hypocritical politicians trying to better the world - in this case through export oontrols. I dont want to piss any one off here but there are a million Indian programmers/executives/VC contigent in the US and from what I hear the US just cant get enough cheap labour from India. And at least in theory India is the largest democracy in the world. So why put India in Tier 3 (old) along with obviously undemocratic nations like China / the Middle East etc.... Strange sense of discrimination. Use the people .. f... the country.
  • No. RTFA... Tier 4 countries (Iran, Iraq, et al) remain under a 'virtual embargo' - nothing changes. France was never under any special restriction anyway...
  • by dinotrac ( 18304 ) on Thursday January 11, 2001 @11:36AM (#513711) Journal
    I'm sure the details will show I'm all wrong (they usually do), but this seems like a covert Linux story. Why?

    The market for very expensive supercomputers is limited to those organizations and countries with the money to buy them.

    Seems to me that companies wanting to spread newly legal high-power computing around could do well by constructing machines with clustered/SMP'd off-the-shelf parts and little or no R&D $$ Linux (Beowulf?).

    Gosh -- what might Compaq do with Alphas?

  • I would expect things to be broken down even more -- into 1 tier with exceptions.

    I work at a microchip distributor, and we currently ship to countries all over the world. I think that the software export controls will become similar to those of what I see in electronic components. Most parts can be found anywhere in the world and, for the most part, US customs doesnt do much in the way of controlling their export (you may not agree if you are the one filling out the paperwork, but you know what I mean :) There are then parts that are restricted based upon various reasons, some being the country into which they are being shipped, the particular company purchasing, the end use of the product, and of course the product itself.

    Believe me, there are hundreds of pages sent each month about companies that are known in various countries to do business with others, and it is our responsiblity to know that we can no longer ship product X to company Y.

    Specifics aside, I think it is a good thing finally that the government is realizing that they need a different way of doing things, because the old ways just simply didnt work.

  • What's the point of export restrictions now? Saddam Hussein already has all of the Playstation2's. All we can do now is sit back and wait for doomsday...
  • "Tier 4 (Iraq, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Cuba, Sudan and Syria). There are no planned changes for Tier 4 countries.."

    Not to mention Tier 5 (Microsoft Headquarters,, Oregon [] and Hell).

  • A $1200 home entertainment box is 100s of times the speed of the best supercomputer of the 1970's arms race era. The government has also acknowledged that clustering (eg: combining a truckload of commodity boxes into a beowulf - like cluster) isn't very hard. I think it's pretty clear that proliferation isn't why they're limiting computer exports.

    They may be out to prevent {en,de}cryption problems or something, but if you can't design a workable nuke with the discarded CPU boards that some of us geeks now have in storage, you shouldn't be in the business.

  • by interiot ( 50685 ) on Thursday January 11, 2001 @12:08PM (#513716) Homepage
    It kind of pisses me off that this is one of a few instances where the government realizes that a law as it stands is ineffective, and the reason they suddenly "got it" this time is because the hardware industry put monetary and political pressure on them. Eventually, the software industry may do the same. But for porn filtering in schools, there's no large economic pressure, so they may continue to be blissfully ignorant that the legislation is little more than an annoyance, yet is a bad legal precident.
  • The question on everybody's mind is "What impact will these restrictions have on the Nano-Pants?"
  • well... from the beowulf mailing list...
    >computer hardware capabilities was outpacing the ability of export >control policy to keep up. President Clinton announced in July 1999 >that hardware controls would be adjusted more frequently and that the >Administration would seek a more effective way to control the export of >computational capabilities important for security and proliferation >interests. The review, which began in the fall of 1999 and involved all >relevant security and nonproliferation agencies and private sector >experts, sought to address the realities of the computer hardware >market, including the continuing growth in single processor performance >that can be aggregated relatively easily into multiple processor >machines, and the advancements in interconnection capabilities that >allow end-users to network large clusters of computers. The latter >element has, in particular, become the single most important challenge >to the ability to effectively control computer hardware.

    so... at least to me, it seems that they have recognized the potential computing power of clusters.

  • Interesting that Israel falls under tier 3, but Intel owns a plant there. Doesn't this screw up the restrictions if an American company abroad can exceed the limitations of T3, but the products aren't actually imported to the US?

    Anybody know what the export distinction is in this case?

  • Not quite true. France was until fairly recently restriced in terms of crypto software. However, this wasn't a US based export restriction but rather a France based ban on use of crypto by their citizens.

    Ah France, just because the world needed someone to make US internet policy decisions look good.

  • Such software based controls will not work. Most of the countries on which such restrictions are put (like India, Pakistan etc.) are rich in people who are all the time involved in developing such software. I remember that software was never an issue. No one there will try to get software from US for which silly restrictions are applied. More than this often such software is considered too expensive, when similar stuff can be developed inhouse with the persons available at a fraction of the cost. This is the way it is usually done in countries like India.
  • because this administration had no problem with easing export restrictions on "super" computers just a few years ago.

    Big ass Crays, VMS, RS 6000s, hey no problemo! But don't export too many deskpros!

  • You are obviously a troll, so I really shouldn't reply, but here goes...

    The U.S. computer market is rapidly saturating. It is always more difficult to sell an upgrade than it is to sell to a new user. Computer manufacturers need to be able to sell there wares throughout the world to countries that are less technologically developed in order to stay in business.

    Draconian restrictions on computer exports will not stop international criminals from getting their hands on the technology, but it will serve to cripple U.S. computer manufacturers.

  • by iElucidate ( 67873 ) on Thursday January 11, 2001 @11:41AM (#513724) Homepage
    The Administration has concluded that
    there are no meaningful or effective control measures for computer hardware that address the technological and marketplace challenges identified during the review. The review found that the ability to control the acquisition of computational capabilities by controlling computer hardware is becoming ineffective and will be increasingly so within a very short time...Nevertheless, the review did find that there is merit in continuing to control national security and proliferation-related software.
    In short, they are reclassifying countries on a three tier scale, and restricting accordingly. They suggest that, while hardware restrictions are continuing for the time being, those restrictions are becoming increasingly ineffective and should be scrapped by the next administration. Rather, software exports should be more controlled, which to me means snooping software, encryption software, and software for CAD as it relates to high-powered weapons design and the like.

    I understand this as a practical matter, but I wonder whether the US is the only country that has such software. It seems unlikely, and, while I understand that they feel they have to do what they can to preserve national security, other countries can still sell, distribute, or develop such software in the future. Still, this is good for all of those countries that need powerful computers and don't have the expertise or resources to develop them on their own.

An elephant is a mouse with an operating system.