A matter of national security: federal IP on the international stage

GREENBELT, Md., 8 March 2012. The decision by NASA officials to auction off satellite software patent lots (read article/view video) is raising considerable concern among aerospace and defense professionals. Executives well versed in International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) and U.S. Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) are particularly apprehensive. Will such actions, which place federal intellectual property (IP) on the international stage for public consumption, threaten national security? Will it grow cyber warfare, cyber terrorism, and cyber security concerns?

NASA officials revealed last week their upcoming participation in the 15th ICAP Ocean Tomo IP Auction. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center patent lots—including technologies related to automated software generation, autonomic computing architectures, and autonomic management of environmental monitoring systems—are scheduled to be auctioned off 29 March 2012 in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.

These software technologies, originally developed for adaptive and autonomous control of satellite systems and related mission-specific needs, “have diverse applications in software development, robotics, telecommunications, utilities, smart grids, wireless sensor networks, quantitative finance, and cyber security, among many others,” says a technology manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

The news prompted several executives, from leading aerospace and defense organizations, to give voice to their growing concerns; many have reached out to Avionics Intelligence, seeking answers to pressing questions. After all, strict laws and security measures are in place to prevent exactly what the auction is promoting: the ready availability of valuable, federal IP to the highest bidder in the public, international domain.

“The described IP appears to offer significant software capabilities to the successful bidder,” notes one professional. “Is NASA screening the security background of the bidders and complying with ITAR or BIS requirements?”

“A winning bidder must first be approved by NASA Goddard before any transfer occurs,” a representative of NASA’s Goddard Flight Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., assures the public.

“I have become quite concerned over the past few years about fractures in [the nation’s] ability to control sensitive information,” says Robert John Primbs, Jr., director of Advanced Technology Workload Development, Ogden Air Logistics Center at Hill Air Force Base (AFB) in Utah. Primbs, a former Air Force intelligence officer, is sensitive to this issue.  

“This country is presently fighting cyber warfare attacks and industrial espionage on a regular basis and should exercise extreme caution with such things as auctions for IP,” Primbs continues. “This is particularly true of the type of information being offered for sale by NASA. Hopefully safeguards are already well in place for this type of activity.”

Avionics Intelligence is currently awaiting further input from ITAR proponents and NASA officials. Stay tuned to http://www.avionics-intelligence.com for updates.

Read the original article: http://www.avionics-intelligence.com/articles/2012/03/nasa-auction-satellite.html#.T1kdxiYw1mo.facebook


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