As reported last month via PRNewswire, over 5,000 inventions are being suppressed via the U.S. Government's classified patent program, according to official data obtained under a recent Freedom of Information Act request by the Federation of American Scientists. This means literally thousands of potentially ground-breaking inventions and technologies are being withheld from the public.
A new project called FreeTheTech.org based in Austin, Texas is raising awareness of the issue through a variety of means, including its new website, a petition on Change.org, and a Billboard fundraising program. Their primary goal is simply to make the public aware that many potentially useful technologies are being suppressed, while their secondary goal is to audit the program via a citizen review panel.
What exactly is contained within the government's archive of 5,784 classified patents has been the source of rampant speculation for decades. However, a recent leak from the Category List of 1971 finally provides some real-world insight as categories from it include: Power Supply, Meteorology, Propulsion Systems, and Unique Materials & Devices. Interestingly, leaked data from the Power Supply section shows that modern-day solar-panel technology was being restricted some 50 years ago. As a result, one can only imagine what’s being suppressed today.
The origin of the government's program is the Invention Secrecy Act of 1951, which evolved invention secrecy from a temporary wartime agenda into a permanent one. As a result, every time a patent is submitted by an inventor today, it can be flagged for review by a multitude of government agencies. All it takes is a single opinion by one of them to keep the invention from ever seeing the light of day.
Patents can be restricted not only for being a national security threat, but also for disrupting economic stability. This means that any number of potentially ground-breaking inventions that challenge the status quo may be restricted and suppressed. FreeTheTech.org's aim is to end all of the speculation by forming a citizen review panel consisting of both experts and general citizens alike. They would independently, yet privately, review all classified patents to yield greater transparency and accountability.
"While promoting our Campaign on Facebook," says project founder Benjamin Cohen, "we've had numerous users assume we're spreading false information due to their own lack of research into this subject matter. While we certainly understand their initial skepticism, the fact remains that this data comes directly from the government itself." Cohen points to the US Patent and Trademark Office's response letter to FOIA Request# F-18-00003, which reveals updated 2017 data showing the new figure of 5784 patents currently under secrecy orders.
For more information, visit the project's main website at www.FreeTheTech.org.