Department of Commerce’s Proposed Export Controls Deemed a Hazard to Innovation by Scientific Community

Jan 25, 2019

At the end of last year, Capitol Update reported that the Department of Commerce was seeking public input on an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) regarding how it should identify “emerging technologies” critical to U.S. national security. This ANPRM was in response to the National Defense Authorization Act released earlier in 2018 that called on the president to create an interagency process to establishing export controls on “emerging and foundational technologies.” Feedback was sought on the following points:

  • How to define emerging technology to assist identification of such technology in the future
  • Criteria to apply to determine whether there are specific technologies within these categories important to U.S. national security
  • Sources to identify such technologies
  • Other general technology categories that warrant review to identify emerging technology that are important to U.S. national security
  • The status of development of these technologiesin the U.S. and abroad
  • The impact specific emerging technology controls would have on U.S. technological leadership
  • Any otherapproaches to the issue of identifying emerging technologies important to U.S. national security

Since the ANPR was released, the Department of Commerce has received more than 200 responses from universities, industry and other interest groups. The majority of these comments expressed concern that implementing such broad regulations could hamper innovation.  In a joint statement, a group of organizations including the American Physical Society (APS), the Optical Society (OSA) and the National Photonics Initiative (NPI) note that “overly restrictive export controls will impede research progress and greatly diminish the U.S. lead in this [quantum information science and technology (QIST)] technology area. Much of quantum technology is in too early stages of research to merit export controls, with the exception of quantum sensors that are adequately covered by current controls.”

In a separate joint statement, organizations such as the Association of American Universities (AAU), Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), and the American Council on Education (ACE) further echoed this sentiment stating, “controls should be confined to very specific developmental technologies and technological components and should be consistent with the positive specific technological parameter-based approach currently widely used in the EAR [Export Administration Regulations]. Overly broad or vague controls will result in unnecessary regulations that will stifle scientific progress and impede research.”

To view the original Capitol Update article on this ANPR, click here: Public Feedback Sought by Both Departments of Energy and Commerce in Drafting of New Policies

To view the joint statement from APS, OSA, NPI and fellow organizations, click here: https://www.lightourfuture.org/npi/media/npi/PDFs/ANPRM-Quantum-NPI-and-Stakeholder-Comment-Final.pdf

To view the joint statement from AAU, AAMC, ACE and fellow organizations, click here: https://www.cogr.edu/sites/default/files/Joint%20Association%20Letter%20RIN%200694-AH61.pdf