I work on an open source project, ESAPI for PHP. Well, “work” might be too strong a word for it, but I try to prod its lifeless carcass from time to time. That’s not the reason I write today. I write because of stupidity, and evil being conducted in the name of a “law”.
I have a fellow open sourcer, who wants to contribute to ESAPI for PHP. He’s actually completed a MVC framework for PHP (jFramework). Due to Google blocking Iran, this gentleman can’t easily contribute to our project, which hosts its repository on code.google.com. ESAPI for PHP will not help build a nuke. It does no crypto of its own. It will make PHP applications safer and more secure – but you can do that anyway if you read half a dozen pages on PHP’s website.
This is madness. ITAR is about blocking the EXPORT of sensitive MUNITIONS (i.e. weapons) TO Iran and other “hostile” countries. ITAR is NOT about blocking the GIFT of intellectual property and valuable developer cycles FROM Iran, helping everyone all over the world, including those folks in Iran (as well as Australia and the USA). This is stupidity on a scale I’ve not seen in a while.
Google: you are doing evil.
Stop this madness, now! Call in your tame congress critters and tell them how stupid and harmful this particular nonsense is and get it repealed. Grow a spine and take a chance. Unless someone open sources a command and control system for a warship, a missile guidance program, or puts Nuclear Reactors For Dummies up as a project, all of the projects should be available for download worldwide. Those one or two mythical and nonsensical projects should not block an entire library of human knowledge to the entire Iranian people just because of some imaginary evil open source project might help Iran’s nuclear program or military. The stuff we do is not rocket science.
Stupid and outdated laws / treaties like ITAR make us disrespectful of all the other laws and treaties, and make us lose all respect for those who abuse their positions of power in the name of “security”. The way to improving relations between countries is not to block them (how’s that Cuba policy going, anyway?) but to engage with them and stop the evil ignoramuses on both sides stopping everyone being happy and free, or just contributing to an open source project.