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Developing Open Source Defense Projects 388

An anonymous reader writes "I'm a developer looking to develop an open source surface-to-air missile guidance system, with the aim of helping developing nations develop low-cost missile defense systems to aid them against attack by the warplanes of invading forces. However, given the very nature of the project, I feel I may be walking into a bit of a minefield regarding the legalities of such a project, since, as I'm sure you can imagine, this project could easily benefit hostile nations was well as relatively peaceful ones! Unfortunately, since Google does not seem to shed much light on the subject, I'd be very interested in hearing Slashdot's views on the matter, especially some advice from those in the know about the legal matters - whether there would be any restrictions (exports, perhaps?) or whether it would be simply plain illegal to develop!"
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Developing Open Source Defense Projects

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  • by The I Shing ( 700142 ) * on Thursday April 01, 2004 @12:17PM (#8737405) Journal
    You can't share the technology with other civilizations!

    Imagine what will happen if the Terrans start building Protoss cannons that can strike ground and air targets, or the Zerg start equipping Zerglings with stimpacks! The results would... be...

    Wait, was that just a computer game?
  • I'm sure if you ask really nicely they'll consider opening one of their projects for you.
  • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) * on Thursday April 01, 2004 @12:17PM (#8737422)
    Well being April 1, I wont take this seriously.

    Beta Testing your product will sure be a bitch, and it will be hard to keep good beta testers.
    • by A nonymous Coward ( 7548 ) * on Thursday April 01, 2004 @12:31PM (#8737639)
      It will be easy to keep good beta testers, they are the ones who survive because they are so good at dodging. The trick is recruiting new beta testers, and keeping them around long enough to become good beta testers.

      As your code improves, it will increasingly weed out the beta testers who are not quite good enough. The really good beta testers will improve as your code improves, and will take your improvments as just the motivation they need to keep on improving.

      Your product will be ready for release when you run out of beta testers.
  • by FortKnox ( 169099 ) on Thursday April 01, 2004 @12:17PM (#8737423) Homepage Journal
    Missile Command (Atari) works great and is dirt cheap now-a-days.
  • Another.... (Score:3, Funny)

    by LostCluster ( 625375 ) on Thursday April 01, 2004 @12:18PM (#8737428)
    I'm getting sick of these April Fool's posts... We all already know that Open Source Defense Projects is an oxymoron, you know source has to be closed to be truely secure.

    Can we have a real story now?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      We all already know that Open Source Defense Projects is an oxymoron, you know source has to be closed to be truely secure.

      Not so fast buddy. He was asking for Open Source to be USED for making such a system. Unless he's DISTRIBUTING such system, GPL does not force him/her to open source resulting system, so source could very well remain closed; only army using the system having access to source code.

      I guess one could argue that firing a missile that contains Open Source code would constitute distribut

    • We all already know that Open Source Defense Projects is an oxymoron, you know source has to be closed to be truely secure.

      How true is that really? In cryptography, I'd guess there are only a handful of nations for whom "security-through-obscurity" is possible: the USA and their echelon partners (Canada, UK, Australia, NZ), France (maybe? They can afford their own nuclear defence programme) and a few others.

      I'd guess most countries buy defense equipment from partners and allies - and pray that their f

  • A solution (Score:5, Funny)

    by Em Emalb ( 452530 ) * <ememalb@GINSBERGgmail.com minus poet> on Thursday April 01, 2004 @12:18PM (#8737432) Homepage Journal
    The Open Source Hammer in the Sky protocol suite is what you are looking for. I use the OSHITS protocol to defend my small volcanic (it's not active, thankfully) island.
    Oh, I also need to mention that OSHITS is GPL-compliant, so feel free to modify it in any way you'd like. It can be found at OSHITS.com [blowshitup.com]*

    The OSHITS protocol suite has also been through the legal ringer, in both the EU and the US.

    In fact, the Supreme Court and the UN Tribunal Council both agreed, OSHITS is legal and quite good for use. Thanks and have a great day.

    *web address doesn't render properly on IE. User must use an old version of Netscape.
    • If you got it from VillainSupply.com [villainsupply.com] then i suggest you get a refund. Their obvious and accessible self-destruct mechanism has been known to initiate by itself.
      • Not to mention that their Doomsday Missile Appliance product does not comply with the GPL. All they did is take the current CVS snapshot of the GnOSHITS front-end, remove some of the GNOME dependancies, and modify the splash-screen.

        Now, don't get me wrong here. I have no problem with VillianSupply selling GPL apps. But they should comply with the GPL. I should be able to request or download source for any GPL app their DoomMA product uses.

        That... and considering how pissy George Lucus got over the who
  • Not a bad thought (Score:2, Insightful)

    by downix ( 84795 )
    First thing, don't be inside of the US developing it. The US doesn't want anything in the way of them rolling over any foreign countries that they find Oil in.

    Otherwise, I'd love to see such a system out there. I've always drafted up ideas for tanks, planes, missile guidence systems, but being in the US, there's no way I could ever develop them.
  • Asking for legal advice on /.?

    The story seem credible up until that part :o)

  • Amendment II (Score:5, Insightful)

    by somethinghollow ( 530478 ) on Thursday April 01, 2004 @12:18PM (#8737436) Homepage Journal
    Hey, man. You have the right to bear arms. Missiles are arms.

    Now lets party.
    • by FortKnox ( 169099 ) on Thursday April 01, 2004 @12:28PM (#8737606) Homepage Journal
      Oh! THATS what the second amendment means!

      This whole time I thought it meant you can wear short sleeves or tank tops...
    • Hey, man. You have the right to bear arms. Missiles are arms.

      I won't be happy until I have the right to arm bears.

      Maybe even with lazers.
    • Due to the patriot act we've had to curtail certain rights. The seven words you can't say on television now have been expanded to 256. The first additions were the words "in god we trust". You have missles for arms? This could be a problem, as yow may know, smoking prohibited in public places.
  • by Roofus ( 15591 ) on Thursday April 01, 2004 @12:18PM (#8737440) Homepage
    I demand a filter option for 'Stupid April Fools' stories
    • It is quite simple. Don't read slashdot on 4/1. Infact, probably best just to avoid the internet in general.
    • What the hell is wrong with you people? Don't have a sense of humor? Don't you see the potential for these stories to serve as entertaining discussions, where almost nothing is OT?

      Instead, all you can do is complain? If it bugs you then just don't read slashdot today. No one is twisting your arm to do so, and it's not like April Fool's stories are new to Slashdot.

      I'd like to demand a filter for posts from whiney folks that can't take a joke or see an opportunity for an interesting discussion.

    • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Thursday April 01, 2004 @01:17PM (#8738099) Homepage
      that is easy... simply add a entry into your hosts file that points slashdot.org to the IP address of CNN.com

      I personally wish that we were allowed to beat sensless anyone who is grumpy today and has no sense of humor... Lik the IT manager in the other 1/2 of the building that deals with that department only.. he didnt like the completely smashed laptop on his desk with a note stating... "it just stopped working, I dont know what happened... can you fix it?" (amazing what a semi truck over a laptop can do :-)

      the jerk came over to our devision started screaming about destruction of company property until the regional VP asked him if we have EVER had toshiba laptops in the building.... he shut up walking off mumbling that it was not funny.

      so I suggest that you avoid slashdot until April 5th.

      we could call it april fools pummling day!
    • This is one of the few "holidays" that hasn't been absurdly sanitized, probably because it's pretty low-impact as far as ritual is concerned. I want to see April Fool's jokes everywhere the entire day of April 1. Tradition and festivity are some of the things that make life rich.

  • perhaps you should write your controlling app using .NET technology?
  • www.coxmodels.com

    Those estes rockets are really cheap. :P
  • by Phekko ( 619272 )
    I may not be the first and/or only one to think of this, but this seems to be a proven formula:

    1. Post article on Slashdot on April 1st
    2. ???
    3. Profit!
  • bats (Score:4, Funny)

    by chimpo13 ( 471212 ) <slashdot@nokilli.com> on Thursday April 01, 2004 @12:20PM (#8737486) Homepage Journal
    You just need to stand at the border with large baseball or cricket bats. Planes hate bats, and bats are sympathetic to American causes. Evil nations would use pointed sticks. So if you develop a system that can tell the difference between pointed sticks (evil) and baseball bats (good), no problem. I'm sure any ol' RFID would be useful in a good American or British bat.
    • But if the evil nations use pointed sticks, should we have a lever to release the Bengal Tiger just in case they attack? Heck, what if they attack us with a banana?
  • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) on Thursday April 01, 2004 @12:20PM (#8737490)
    Michael isn't intentionally picking April Fools stories. He's actually following his normal selection patern, it's just today that we're willing to consider them jokes....
  • Seriously. You want real legal advice, not advice from some dude on a website who sounds convincing.

    That being said, how much help is the software without precision aviation hardware? And wouldn't the software you write be tied to some particular hardware that may or may not be hard for a typical nation's defense forces to obtain?

    Those are my thoughts.

  • April fool... (Score:2, Redundant)

    by DrWhizBang ( 5333 )
    OK, michael must be stopped...

    perhaps someone here chould develop a ground-to-slashdot editor missile system so we can get on with the regular dupes and SCO stories?
  • Why waste time working on weapons. Use your skills for good. Something like software to route food in underdeveloped nations. If this is an April's Fools post, it is quite uninspired.
  • I think O'Reilly has a Munitions book that includes surface to air missiles and a host of other goodies (with code snippets).

    I can't remember what's on the cover.
  • by Sheepdot ( 211478 ) on Thursday April 01, 2004 @12:22PM (#8737523) Journal
    Dun't worry yurself 'bout the legaltys. 'Ell, I owns one a dem dere new-clear weapons and no one's dun gone'n fussed ta me about it. Course, I ain't told no one 'bout it either. B'Sides, it's my second amender-ment right!
  • by spamnix ( 760927 ) on Thursday April 01, 2004 @12:23PM (#8737528)
    ... KICBM?
    or GMissile?

    Beta testers are sure gonna be a hard thing to find when bugs crop up.
  • Par for the course (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cheezit ( 133765 ) on Thursday April 01, 2004 @12:23PM (#8737529) Homepage
    This fits in just a little too well with some recent "Ask Slashdot" stories.

    "I'm a moron. How can I be less of a moron? Should I not be a moron at all? Or should I be even more moronic?" (bitchslapping ensues, mostly by those too bored to restrain themselves)
  • ITAR (Score:5, Informative)

    by nadador ( 3747 ) on Thursday April 01, 2004 @12:23PM (#8737537)
    Which is worse? To feed trolls by posting replies, or to reply to any story posted on Slashdot on April 1?

    The answer to the question is of course: ITAR, the International Traffic in Arms Regulations, which is detailed here: http://pmdtc.org/reference.htm

    "127.1 Violations.
    (a) It is unlawful:
    (1) To export or attempt to export
    from the United States any defense article
    or technical data or to furnish
    any defense service for which a license
    or written approval is required by this
    subchapter without first obtaining the
    required license or written approval
    from the Office of Defense Trade Controls;"
    • Ahhh, finally, someone who knows of what he speaks.

      I hear ALLLLLLLL too much about this stuff from my wife. It's very cool. Just not every damn day. :)
    • ITAR applies to physical objects. EAR applies to aid and information. EAR does not apply to anything that is published (vs. proprietary). If you are developing and publishing a protocol suite or some open-source software, you are probably in the clear. The most obvious precedent is PGP (MIT Press went so far as to publish the source code as a book).

      I am not a lawyer.

  • by AtariAmarok ( 451306 ) on Thursday April 01, 2004 @12:24PM (#8737540)
    10. Nuclear landmines kept warm by being packed with live penguins
    9. The Gentoo Torpedo
    8. *BSD WMD (this one is buried deep so you can't find it)
    7. SDI SDK
    6. The *real* Mozilla: a 600' tall flame-breathing Japanese monster.
    5. Neutron GAIM
    4. The BeoWulfowitz Cluster
    3. Sun OpenWarfare project
    2. The Doomsday Linux
    1. Cmdr Taco
  • It's a no-brainer.
  • I thought it was kind of funny, but I'd put money on it that they have your phones tapped right now just to make sure. Better put your tin foil hat on and start praying that the feds figure you are just joking.
    Maybe you should try making fun of a bunch of sissies that can't do anything about it. Maybe a nice Canada joke? Or better yet, make fun of the stupid, like the rest of us do. At least they won't get it.
  • GTFM! (Score:5, Informative)

    by palad1 ( 571416 ) on Thursday April 01, 2004 @12:26PM (#8737581)
    Open Source Missile [google.com], a la google.
  • by keester ( 646050 ) on Thursday April 01, 2004 @12:35PM (#8737691)

    I like this idea because, as it stands, the price for this type of software is artificially inflated.

    Right now, terrorists' funding is being stretched quite thin because of increased costs for heroin production in Afghanistan. So, anywhere that they can cut costs, they want to. Buying guided missiles from former Soviet block nations can be quite costly, and a more cost effective solution involves cutting out the middle man and building them "in-cave."

    I'm not sure about legal issues, but perhaps Syria or Lebanon or other countries would be interested in supporting you. Just watch out for those pesky CIA dudes that are trying to kill your ass.

  • by Scorchio ( 177053 ) on Thursday April 01, 2004 @12:36PM (#8737703)
    ...when the missile's about to strike :
    while (1)
    dist = GetDistToTarget();

    if (dist > 1.0)
    { // Too late for any more course changes
    printf("And now, the end is near;\n");
    printf("And so I face the final curtain.\n");
    printf("My friend, I'll say it clear,\n");
    printf("I'll state my case, of which I'm certain.\n");

    printf("I've lived a life that's full.\n");
    printf("I've traveled each and ev'ry highway;\n");
    printf("And more, much more than this,\n");
    printf("I did it my way");

    while (1) { printf("y"); }
  • This should definately be part of devfs. You should be able to say something like:

    dd if=/dev/nuke of=/dev/[your enemy] count=5

    Good luck!
  • by gregwbrooks ( 512319 ) * <gregb@west-thir d . c om> on Thursday April 01, 2004 @12:44PM (#8737762)
    So, which do you trust more?

    • A missle-defense RPM ("Watch out for that crucial nuke-couterstrike dependency -- the install hoses without it!"); or
    • Compiling from source ("Careful with the flags when you run make... Running -WITH_WMD in a non-WMD environment could cause a kernel panic...")
  • I think you pretty much have to do the work in one of the beneficiary countries. You'll need access to anti-aircraft weapons for testing, after all.

    Even then, you are likely to have trouble getting permission to give it to anyone else. You might have to smuggle the software out and distribute it as warez. If caught you are likely to be prosecuted as a "terrorist".
  • despite what most of you readers are saying, its NOT illegal to develop this. and for the same reasons i can post bomb making instructions on line, or print them in books. as long as you aren't actually implementing it, or selling it to some terrorists, its legal.
  • .. the launch codes! And the launch computer should run windows 95 and have a permanent, non-firewalled internet connection. You do that, and I'll open-source my very own doomsday worm (development is still in an early phase, the release is expexted around april 1, 2005 :)).
  • man, /. is teh suck on April 1. goodbye till tomorrow. until then i'll be reading the last 2 months of dilbert.com

  • by ArcticCelt ( 660351 ) on Thursday April 01, 2004 @01:05PM (#8737979)
    Ever heard of the "Gerald Bull Supercanon" project? If I where you I will not only be concerned about the legality of the project. By doing that kind of project you'll become an unofficial enemy of many industrial country's and that's the perfect scenario to finish like this guy []. Is basic project wasn't mean, he just wanted to develop a cheap way to send payload in space but because he was helping enemy nations he got more than he bargained for. Even if he was a Canadian Citizen (I think) he wasn't out of reach of the Mossad...
  • Instead of all these lame April Fool's jokes every year, it might be nice one day (not necessarilly April Fool's) to have all articles that are ordinarilly rejected. I'm sure there are lots of incredibly lame, and stupid stories suggested every day. I would think that at least some of them would be (unintentionally) more humorous than many of these April Fool's jokes.
  • As Mr. Garrison of South Park says, "There are no stupid people. Only stupid questions."

    We can't get a missile defense system working here. Imagine how embarrasing if say Iceland developed a missile defense system or even Borneo before the US of A.

    Oh wait. It's an April Fool's joke. Excuse me while I bang my head on my desk.

"Gravitation cannot be held responsible for people falling in love." -- Albert Einstein