IEEE bans residents of Cuba, Iran, Libya and Sudan from publishing
October 28, 2003 3:38 PM   Subscribe

IEEE bans residents of Cuba, Iran, Libya and Sudan from publishing "The IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) recently imposed a ban on the residents of Cuba, Iran, Libya and Sudan from publishing and contributing to any IEEE publication or standard." I think this is something that deserves much wider coverage then it has been getting.
posted by Calebos (25 comments total)
posted by mischief at 3:43 PM on October 28, 2003

I'm an IEEE member and I think this ban is assinine. One of the people I know has published (the last time I checked) upwards of 50 articles in various IEEE journals. He's immigrated to Canada, but he was born in Iran. I hadn't even heard of this until now, thanks for the post.
posted by substrate at 3:46 PM on October 28, 2003

First of all mischief, it's actually against the IEEE's own charter. The IEEE is not an American organization, it's an international organization and publishes papers from members all over the world. It's purpose is to advance the state of the art, not to take political positions of this nature.
posted by substrate at 3:49 PM on October 28, 2003

"Treasury Department ruling puts IEEE on the spot, but could affect other groups, too

15 October 2003—On 30 September, the U.S. Treasury Department (Washington, D.C.) informed the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) that it must continue to limit members’ rights in four countries embargoed by the United States: Cuba, Iran, Libya, and Sudan. The ruling means, among other things, that the IEEE, the world’s largest engineering association (and the publisher of this magazine), cannot edit articles submitted by authors in those countries, making it effectively impossible for most such work to appear in IEEE publications. "
posted by Akuinnen at 3:50 PM on October 28, 2003

When I first saw the banned countries list, I thought it included "Ohio" (my subconscious plays little tricks at times).
posted by troutfishing at 3:50 PM on October 28, 2003

This is pretty shocking. As a friend of an Iranian student studying for a PhD in Australia (although not in the electrical engineering field), I can only stress how important it is for students to have access to international channels of academic communication. An Iranian PhD student is not the repressive government of Iran. In fact, an Iranian PhD student is probably holds the antithesis of the philosophy of the rogue state. The futures of these countries lie, often, with exact kind of people the IEE is seeking to silence - and what good can that possibly do anyone?
posted by Jimbob at 3:54 PM on October 28, 2003

but these countries probably hate our freedom. they should get a kick out of not having as much anymore.
posted by mcsweetie at 3:55 PM on October 28, 2003

What is the tangible reason why these countries can't contribute to IEEE specifications? It's not like any of us can boycott it!
posted by Keyser Soze at 4:00 PM on October 28, 2003

more importantly, what is gained from the ban? This is another way the US would like to strong arm other countries into submission, only they are twisting the arms of intellectuals who have no sway with international politics. Brilliant... and the world community is poorer without the contribution of the minds of these banned countries.
posted by Tryptophan-5ht at 4:11 PM on October 28, 2003

Note that it says "residents," and not "citizens." I'd make the case that an Iranian PhD student studying in Australia is not covered by the ban.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 4:15 PM on October 28, 2003

I have written to IEEE and suggested adding Ohio to their list.
posted by Postroad at 4:46 PM on October 28, 2003

Akuinnen's link has a lot more info than was quoted here:
linked for convenient

Sounds like the IEEE feels like they have no choice but to do this due to the various US embargoes on these countries, and the other similar organizations are just playing fast and loose and hoping they don't get caught.
posted by smackfu at 4:52 PM on October 28, 2003

Seems the matter is not the IEEE's fault, it's originated from the activities of some eager beaver bureacrat in the US Office of Foreign Asset Control. The IEEE is resisting.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 5:13 PM on October 28, 2003

The IEEE is currently seeking a license so that no individual specific notice to or permission from OFAC is needed before any particular article is to be accepted and published from sanctioned countries.

Running afoul of the sanctions can bring fines of up to $10 million and even prison terms. "If you get it wrong, even if you think you acted in good faith, you can be found liable," Segall says. OFAC can and does penalize not just organizations but individuals within those organizations, and private citizens. "OFAC’s authority is extraordinary, because it is grounded in presidential authority and national security," Segall says. "Compared to other police agencies in the federal government, they’ve got remarkably broad discretion and authority."

OFAC seems to be aggressive in pursuing civil penalties for sanction infractions (civil penalties for the month ending 10/03, pdf). It seems more productive to me to try to change the OFAC than compel the IEEE to resist their current authority.
posted by eddydamascene at 5:22 PM on October 28, 2003

"Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

IEEE should tell OFAC to get bent.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 5:30 PM on October 28, 2003

Maybe the IEEE needs to get a legal defense fund going. This doesn't seem like something that's above being challenge in court with the realistic basis of winning.

If the comic book industry can do it, I think the much richer IEEE community can try.

Agreed, OFAC can OFAC itself.
posted by skallas at 6:03 PM on October 28, 2003

<insert obligatory comment about police state here>
posted by spazzm at 6:05 PM on October 28, 2003

I'd make the case that an Iranian PhD student studying in Australia is not covered by the ban.

You're right, and I'd make that case too. But what if he didn't get accepted for his scholarship in Australia because he had no evidence of ever having published anything in a reputable international journal in the past, because of a ban like this? Moves to deny academics the freedom to take part in science internationally are no good.
posted by Jimbob at 6:32 PM on October 28, 2003

I didn't see anyone make such a fuss when some European institutions attempted to impose a ban on Israeli scientists...
posted by Krrrlson at 9:09 PM on October 28, 2003

Really, Krrlson? I remember a pretty big fuss. Or do you mean just on MeFi?
posted by chaz at 9:15 PM on October 28, 2003

I meant MeFi. If you look at the world as a whole, you can always find *some* idiot making a fuss about anything :)
posted by Krrrlson at 9:34 PM on October 28, 2003

Krrrlson: I don't think it's idiotic to protest the ban of Israeli scientists from European institutions. But I think it would be hypocritical--effectively idiocy, for both lead to error--to be against one and not the other.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 6:34 AM on October 29, 2003

This is clearly a violation of First Amendment rights. Let's say I'm a publisher in the US. I decide to publish the works of an Iranian author. The act of publication is an act of speech not just for the author, but for the publisher as well. It is as if I (the publisher) were standing in a public venue and reading aloud the words of the author. It's his words, but my speech.

For fucks sake, what the agenda here? History clearly shows us that any nation that engages in suppression of ideas and inhibits science will cripple its ability to compete in the global economy. Enlightened self-interest alone should dicate that the corporatist oligarchy running the US be as unrestrictive of the free exchange of ideas as possible. Sure, they don't understand or respect the Constitution (there's got to be some reason they're not upholding it, which they're sworn to do), but they should realize that they're screwing themselves, no?
posted by yesster at 7:17 AM on October 29, 2003

I never said it's idiotic (that comment was just a poor attempt at wit in response to chaz) -- in fact, I protest it wholeheartedly (and, considering the relative scientific accomplishments of Israeli institutions and those in, say, Libya or Sudan, more so than the current issue).
posted by Krrrlson at 10:51 AM on October 29, 2003

Making science political is about as smart as making it religious.
posted by spazzm at 4:46 PM on October 29, 2003

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