Last June, CRA joined with over 300 other science and university groups in filing comments (pdf) opposing the Department of Commerce’s proposed change to so-called “deemed export” regulations that would seriously impact university research efforts. A deemed export occurs when a foreign national “uses” technology subject to export restrictions while in the United States. The proposal would have made a number of significant changes:
- Deemed export applications would be evaluated not just on country of citizenship and permanent residence, but on country of birth as well;
- Expand the definition of use of controlled technologies to any form of instruction on their operation, including access to manuals and, by a conservative reading, visual access to a machine or source code; and
- Exclude from the fundamental research exemption all research conducted under government sponsorship that is subject, either by regulation or prudential practice, to prepublication review.
CRA objected to the rule changes for a number of reasons — it’s unjust and anti-democratic to judge people on their country of birth; the rule changes concerning the word “use” are confusing; the rule would impose tremendous costs on researchers, their institutions and the Department of Commerce; the rule shows a misunderstanding of editorial review and how scientific research works; and we weren’t sure that a credible problem exists.
The Department of Commerce has apparently listened to the community in opposition and decided to step back from it’s proposed rule. A Bloomberg story with some of the detail is here. This is my favorite quote:
“I came to the conclusion it was a much sounder approach to actually think about the overarching policy and revisit basic assumptions and revisit objectives,” said [David] McCormick, [U.S. undersecretary of Commerce for industry and security].