The Wassenaar Arrangement
Our first information about the new Wassenaar Arrangement came in the
form of a newspaper article, which said that export of encryption
software would be prohibited—and this seemed to include free
software. So we posted an announcement seeking people in
non-Wassenaar countries to participate in distribution and development
of free software for encryption.
Subsequently the actual text of the new version of Wassenaar Arrangement was
published. Then we saw that it continues to have an exception that
seems to cover free software. (They use the term “public
domain”, but they seem to mean something like free software by
that.) So the problem seems to have been a false alarm.
However, the US continues to seek such restrictions, and therefore it
makes sense to continue our preparations, as a precaution in case a
future version of the Wassenaar Arrangement places further restrictions
on exportation of free software.
Here is our interpretation of the text of the latest Wassenaar
Arrangement, as we have seen it. This has not been checked by a
According to the General Software Notes, entry 2, the agreement does
not cover software which is in “the public domain”. This
is defined in the definitions as technology or software which has been
made available without restrictions upon its further dissemination.
There is also a statement that copyright by itself does not deny a
program this “public domain” status.
There are currently discussions about the agreement and it would seem
logical that the definition of “public domain” is
something that will be clarified at future meetings.
Finnish officials have stated that “nothing will change as
far as the “public domain” software and the Dec 3
Wassenaar Arrangement are concerned.”
In Denmark, we are told, there has been an incident where the Ministry
of Commerce informed an administrator to stop offering the program PGP
Recent news indicate that the Australian government has prohibited the
export of free software for encryption by modifying the Wassenaar list
that related to the definition of software “in the public