The first project I picked up at EFF this summer was to research and analyze restrictions on exporting digital tools to Syria. Suffice it to say, they are a mess. The first major result of the project is this blogpost on the EFF Deeplinks blog, which we hope will incite the Obama administration to clarify that exporting tools that promote communication and self-organization among Syrian citizens is not only legal, but encouraged.
The most compelling argument to me is the effect of the Berman and Free Trade in Information Amendments, which specifically prohibit the President from directly or indirectly regulating the export of “information or informational materials.” This restriction has been narrowly implemented however; the Treasury Department continues to regulate services for information creation, alteration, or promotion. This creates a lot of confusion about whether a social network or e-mail client is exempt from export regulation. Seems to me that regulating such a service would be an impermissible indirect regulation of information under those amendments.
Looking forward to seeing if this gets traction. Let me know your thoughts.
Image: cc-by-nc / darkroom productions