Magazine article National Defense

How New U.K. Export Controls Will Hit U.S

Magazine article National Defense

How New U.K. Export Controls Will Hit U.S

Article excerpt

The United Kingdom's Export Control Act - passed by Parliament in 2002 and scheduled to take effect before the end of this year - represents the greatest single change to the government's control system since the current regulations were introduced in 1939.

While the act introduces no new controls on technology, it does attempt to regulate certain commercial activities not previously controlled. The full text of the measure can be viewed at: http://www.legislation.hmso.gov uk/ acts/acts2002/20020028.htm.

U.K. industry is trying to come to terms with the potential implications of new controls on its activities. However, there are also fears about how overseas firms could be affected. As currently written, the act could have an impact on activities of foreign companies and their representatives in the United Kingdom. It also could have an impact on foreign business officials visiting or working in the country.

The U.K. government's proposed regulations implementing the new law were published in January. The full text of those proposals can be viewed at: http://www.dti.gov.uk/export.control/legislation/exportcontrolconsult.htm

While the regulations will not seek to introduce any additional restrictions on new areas of technology not previously controlled, the scope of the U.K. export control regime is to be expanded. As a result, the proposed regulations will bring the U.K. export control system very much more into line with that of the United States, especially through the introduction of the series of new controls covering intangible transfer of technology and "trafficking and brokering" activities.

The U.K. government's intangible transfer-- of-technology proposals impose an export-- control regime upon the transfer of military technology from the United Kingdom. The new controls cover the transfer of technology by electronic means, including by e-mail, fax and telephone. Any means of transferring technology related to weapons of mass destruction also is covered.

In addition, video conferencing is covered, as is military technology or software placed on an intranet and a U.K. company's employee electronically accessing licensable technology from overseas (e.g. via a laptop). If the recipient is overseas at the time of receipt, intra company transfers of military technology is covered.

This proposal alone makes the United Kingdom's proposed new regulations more burdensome than those of the United States, which exempt intra company transfers.

U.K. industry agrees that new controls on intangible transfer of technology need to be introduced, but it has urged that it be done in such a way as not to impinge upon legitimate free exchange of information. Controls on intangible transfer of technology come down to practicalities.

Ready and rapid access to information is essential within multinational companies and in multinational collaborative development programs.

Engineers working together need to be able to exchange information freely, and controls on the sharing of technology could greatly inhibit the effectiveness of the United Kingdom as a partner in multinational joint development programs.

Anything that increases the bureaucracy involved in the exchange and free flow of information and technology across national boundaries will be detrimental, and a pragmatic approach is essential. Strict interpretation and enforcement of controls on intangible transfer of technology by U. …

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