NASA's free research trove may have broken arms trafficking rules

US authorities checking celebrated doc dump to make sure it's not revealing too much


Last week, NASA announced that all of its published research would be aggregated into a single portal and published for free.

Now, according to Space News, some NASA research has had to be pulled from the Web because the agency fears it might violate export controls.

The research in question represented outputs from the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program. That program funds ideas like future rover possibilities, aerospace platforms, and even what interstellar flight systems might look like.

Space News reports that NIAC program executive Jason Derleth told a NIAC conference the agency had found a potential International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) violation in a research document made public on NASA's Website.

Derleth is quoted as saying “We’ve had to remove the studies because of a potential ITAR violation by one of our fellows, so now we’re going through and doing all of the ITAR checks to make sure that everything is perfectly legal.”

He didn't detail what the violation might have been, but said a review of all NIAC documents offered for publication would take five months.

Other research from NASA remains online at its recently-launched free PubSpace portal.

Technology trade regulations have become a hot topic because of the new Wassenaar Agreement; they impose so many constraints on what researchers can publish that a Microsoft-led group recently called on the signatories to the agreement to rewrite it so as not to destroy the infosec industry. ®

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