Technology transfer—A growing problem



A joint National Academy of Sciences (NAS)-Department of Defense (DOD) panel on the subject of technology transfer, which usually means giving away valuable industrial and perhaps unclassified military designs and information, set national guidelines in its recent report (Eos, October 5, p. 801). The results could affect the freedom of publication and public presentation of geophysical research.

An aspect of the problem surfaced in mid-August of this year, when, at the 26th annual technical symposium of the Society of Photooptical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE) DOD suddenly censored from presentation at the meeting something close to 100 papers, many of which were on applications of infrared technology and its transmission in the atmosphere. A number of the papers had apparent potential to the military, but none of the research was classified. Generally, research contracts with university professors contain nothing about obtaining clearance before presenting the results at professional meetings, but there are rules that apply, to wit the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). Also, the Department of Commerce has export control regulations that could be invoked. The censorship at the San Diego meeting has caused considerable clamor within the scientific community, starting with a report about the SPIE events that was published in Science News (Sept. 4, 1982) as ‘Remote Censoring: DOD Blocks Symposium Papers.’