ITAR: The International Traffic in Arms Regulations
The International Traffic in Arms Regulations, or ITAR, is a group of regulations by the United States government that are in place in order to control the import and export of different defense-related services and articles that are found on the United States Munitions List.
ITAR includes the provisions seen in Title 22 Chapter I Subchapter M in the Code of Federal Regulations, called the Arms Export Control Act. The purpose of this division is to help safeguard United States national security while furthering foreign policy objectives set by the United States.
The regulations found in ITAR in practice says that material and information that relates to military related technologies or defense can only be shared with United States person unless the Department of States gives authorization or an exemption for certain circumstances is used.
ITAR was put into law during the Cold War in 1976 with the intent of implementing control over unilateral arms export reflecting those imposed placed by on Eastern Bloc countries
Since then, the United States government has dramatically enforced certain activity, particularly when the United States Department of state took control of satellite export regulations. Since 1999, they have published 29 different instances of Consent Agreements, while only 12 had been published in the 22 years before.
A United States person or organization can potentially face large fines by providing foreign persons with ITAR protected services, defense articles, or technical data. ITAR Is not applicable to information that is related to general mathematical, scientific, or engineering principles found in colleges or schools along with information that is legitimately available in the public domain.
ITAR is also not applicable to basic system descriptions or general market information. However it is important to be cautious in these areas as there have been circumstances where professors have breached the regulations due to foreign graduate students.
Since 1999, the United States government has significantly increased enforcement against individuals and organizations responsible for a breach of ITAR. For example, a $100 million penalty was given to ITT due to their unauthorized Retransfer of certain night vision technology in 2007.
In most of these cases, the penalty against a corporate entity includes a compliance component that is mandatory. It requires the entity to use funds for compliance measures, such as appointing many Internal Special Compliance Officers. Penalties can also make a party submit to external audit. On a far extreme, a party can be debarred from any future exporting for a given period of time.
The United States government also has a policy that imposes a positive obligation on American companies saying that they must fully disclose any ITAR breaches to the government. Not doing so may significantly increase the penalties applied by the government.