Saturday, March 20, 2010

Internet-Based Communications General Licenses

On February 28th, 2010 Slashdot.org posted the article US Gov't. Ending Its Hands-Off-the-Internet Stance, which you can read for yourself if interested.

Now on March 8th, 2010 we find that the United States Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Asset Controls (OFAC) is issuing Internet-Based Communications General Licenses:

"On March 8, 2010, the Office of Foreign Assets Control amended the Sudanese Sanctions Regulations, 31 CFR part 538, and the Iranian Transactions Regulations, 31 CFR part 560, to add general licenses that authorize the exportation to Sudan and Iran, respectively, of certain services and software incident to the exchange of personal communications over the Internet, such as instant messaging, chat and email, and social networking. Amendments being made to the Cuban Assets Control Regulations, 31 CFR part 515, similarly authorize by general license the exportation of such services to Cuba (the exportation of goods and technology, including software, to Cuba must be separately licensed or otherwise authorized by the Department of Commerce). To qualify for these authorizations, such services and software must be publicly available at no cost to the user."

While I recognize this particular text deals with countries that are hostile to the US, and is meant to help the people of the countries that are hostile to its own citizens, it does demonstrate that the Government already has an Internet licensing process precedent in place. On the upside, from the last line, it seems they are supporting Open Source Software and services.

I wonder what kind of muddled mess it will be to get licenses for Embedded Systems from a government bureaucrat that does not know what an Embedded System does, should this ever come to pass?