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Atomic Energy Act and "Restricted Data"

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Overview Edit

Because of potential national security implications, nongovernmental scientists who conducted atomic energy research and development at the beginning of World War II took actions to keep such research secret, except for those with a need to know it. Strict governmental security during the war kept this knowledge limited, and after the war’s end, the U.S. Congress passed the Atomic Energy Act of 1946,[1] which created the Atomic Energy Commission and established policies for securing atomic energy-related information. Atomic energy laws, as administered first by the Atomic Energy Commission and now the Department of Energy, allow the federal government to limit access to all atomic energy-related information, which is automatically "born classified" and is categorized upon creation as "restricted data," (RD), even if it is developed by private researchers outside of government. At first, access to this information was allowed only for defense purposes. Subsequent modifications in law, principally the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, permitted certain non-governmental persons, such as industrialists and foreign governments, to obtain permits to access such "restricted data," for the purposes of peaceful commercial development of atomic energy or international cooperative programs if they could obtain the necessary security clearances.

"Restricted data," or "RD," is defined as

all data concerning (1) design, manufacture, or utilization of atomic weapons; (2) the production of special nuclear material; or (3) the use of special nuclear material in the production of energy, but shall not include data declassified or removed from the Restricted data category pursuant to section 142 [42 U.S.C. §2162].[2]

Current penalties for violating the law include imprisonment for "any term of years," a fine of $100,000, or both.[3]

References Edit

  1. Pub. L. No. 79-585, 60 Stat. 755.
  2. Atomic Energy General Provisions, 42 U.S.C. §2014 (2002), Definitions.
  3. 42 U.S.C. §§2274-77.

Source Edit

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