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ITAR (International Traffic in Arms Regulations) and the EAR (Export Administration Regulations) are export control regulations run by different US government departments. Both agencies were created to help ensure that defense-related technology does not get into the wrong hands. An export license is a general term for ITAR and EAR-controlled items in which the US Government has granted permission to transport or sell potentially dangerous items to foreign countries or parties. 

Appropriate marking and control of specific unclassified technical data dealing with military or space applications are necessary because foreign corporations and others acting on behalf of foreign governments may otherwise file requests for this information under the Freedom of Information Act. 

Federal law (15 USC 140c) allows the Secretary of Defense to withhold from public disclosure any technical data with military or space applications that are in possession of — or under control of — the Department of Defense and that may not be exported lawfully without an approval, authorization or license under the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) or the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). This does not apply to scientific, education, or other data that qualify for General License GTDA under the EAR. The rationale for this restriction is that public release may constitute an export. DoD Directive 5230.25, “Withholding Unclassified Technical Data From Public Disclosure,” implements this law. 

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