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Celebrating the independent kiwi spirit of invention.


Research Topic: Apple's G4 and the US Government.

By Ian Mander, 28 September 1999.

Question: Why isn't Apple exporting its G4 supercomputers to Russia when they are now allowed to?

Answer: What the US Government says and what they do are two different things. Yes, they have changed the level at which a computer is considered super. However, there is so much red tape that it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to actually meet the government's requirements.


From CNET in an article from 3 August:

High-performance computers are controlled through a four-tiered system in which countries that represent a low risk to national security, such as Canada, are allowed to import high-performance computers with few restrictions. Controls increase with countries that are perceived to be a threat, up to a virtual embargo on nations such as Iraq.

Also today, Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Brazil were moved into the low-risk category. Meanwhile, computer performance levels allowed in the next strata of countries – which include South Africa and South Korea – doubled. Higher-performance computers were also allowed into the next tier of countries, although there is a sharp distinction between what is allowed for civilian vs. military users.

The amount of computing power allowed is judged in Millions of Theoretical Operations per Second, or MTOPS. The range allowable for these third-tier companies, such as India, Pakistan, China, and Russia, increased from 2 to 7,000 MTOPS for a civilian end user to between 2,000 and 12,300 MTOPS. In six months, it is set to increase to 6,500 MTOPS.

What???

A company must notify the Commerce Department if it plans to sell a computer with MTOPS in that range. After ten days, the company can ship the computer if the Commerce Department hasn't said not to.

In an article from 24 September:

Despite the lifting of the restrictions, Apple said other red tape still limits its ability to export the G4 to numerous countries, according to a report in the "National Journal's Technology Daily," a public policy newsletter. Rather than deal with the legal and political headaches, Apple simply decided not to ship to those countries.

...

Sales of high-performance computers are controlled through a four-tiered system in which countries that represent a low risk to U.S. national security, such as Canada, are allowed to import high-performance computers with few restrictions. Controls are tightened for countries that are perceived to be a threat, resulting in a virtual embargo on nations such as Iraq and Libya.

Until recently, Apple's new G4 Power Macintosh computers – along with upcoming products such as the Sony Playstation II game console – were classified as supercomputers under a system government officials have acknowledged as archaic.

When export control rules were changed in August, Apple was free to sell computers to "third-tier" countries such as such as Russia. However, the company has elected not to do so. The U.S. government, in the interest of national security, requires that companies be able to identify who has purchased the product. Apple sells computers to distributors, who in turn sell them to retailers; because of this, Apple has no way to track sales to end users, as is still required by the government.

Emphsis added.



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