Thousands Speak Up Against DDTC’s Prior Restraint

Two more weeks remain before the August 3, 2015 cutoff for the submission of public comments to the State Department Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (“DDTC”) proposed rule at 80 Fed. Reg. 31,525 (June 3, 2015), in which DDTC officials seek to explicitly impose a prior restraint on public speech under the ITAR.

Already, over 7,000 public comments have been submitted to DDTC expressing strong opposition to the proposed rule, to include the following:

“This proposal would institute a massive new prior restraint on free speech. And must be stopped.”

“Please no ‘gag order’ on the American people.”

“This is a terrible idea as it attacks the foundation that this country was built upon.”

“This is getting way out of hand. Boundaries have been long overstepped and this is just another one.”

“If freedom of speech and freedom of the press is not excluded fully from this rewrite of ITARS rules it would be the biggest backdoor grab on the 1st amendment…”

“The proposed changes in the ITAR rules are a blatant attack on our First Amendment Rights. The internet is an open and free media in which information can be…”

“I think all these revisions are absurd and ridiculous all this information is already out, this is a total violation of the constitution and our first amendment rights.”

You can view the posted public comments at www.regulations.gov by searching under “DOS-2015-0023”.

As noted in a prior DTL Post, even the Department of Justice has warned that use of the ITAR to impose a prior restraint on public speech violates the First Amendment. Whether DDTC will heed the Department of Justice warnings and the thousands of public comments opposing the proposed rule is unknown. 


*The above is not intended as an exhaustive list of restrictions that may apply to a particular transaction nor advice for a specific transaction because the specifics of an individual case may implicate application of other U.S. laws as well as foreign laws that carry added or different requirements.  In addition, U.S. export control and sanctions laws are frequently subject to change.  Such changes can affect the continued validity of the information above, which is based on U.S. law existing as of July 19, 2015. For these reasons, assistance from a qualified attorney competent to advise on such matters is highly recommended. Matthew A. Goldstein is an International Trade Attorney in Washington D.C. licensed to practice in the District of Columbia.  He can be reached at (202) 550-0040 and Matthew@GoldsteinPLLC.com

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