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Export Control

Jennifer Douris O'Bryan speaking at Photonics West


Opportunity for SPIE constituents to influence export control regulations

Technical Advisory Committees at the US Department of Commerce are accepting proposals for updates to Dual-use Export Controls

The Technical Advisory Committees (TACs) of the US Department of Commerce are accepting proposals from stakeholders regarding outdated terminology, figures of merit, metrics, and/or references to outdated technology within the US Commerce Control List (CCL) and applicable Wassenaar Regulations.

The CCL is the list of regulations that control dual-use technology, meaning technology that could be used for both military or civilian purposes. The CCL covers technology items in aerospace, electronics, nuclear, information security, materials, navigation, and computers. Category 6 of the CCL includes much of the optics and photonics items controlled under US export controls, such as IR sensors, read-out integrated circuits, image intensifiers, lasers, lenses, and optics.

Proposals must be submitted by 31 October 2018.

All submissions should be emailed to OutdatedCCL@spie.org.

Proposals will be assigned to the appropriate TAC for review and disposition. Topics that cross-committee boundaries will be handled jointly. As is common with any change to the export control system, achieving the necessary updates will be a multi-year process.

The focus of this effort is to clean up outdated terminology, figures of merit, and/or references to outdated technology. This could include a focus within regulations on a metric that is now less important due to advancements in the controlled technology.

All proposals should clearly identify the specific Export Control Classification Number (ECCN(s)) referenced for modernization within the CCL, as well as justification for the needed change, including examples where possible. Additionally, submissions should provide an appropriate point of contact for each proposal.

The purpose behind this request for proposals is to build upon recent efforts to modernize and provide clarity to the CCL in the US. A wholesale review of the export control system, called the Export Control Reform (ECR) Initiative, began in the US in 2009 and was completed in 2016.

Though much progress was made during the ECR review in terms of modernization and clarity, the primary focus of this effort was to refocus the US control system on the highest priority technologies by moving less militarily significant items to the CCL, and provide a clear jurisdictional line for items controlled within the regulatory system. This helps ensure that the most militarily significant items on the US Munitions List (USML) can be controlled more effectively.

Though the ECR initiative included modernization of regulatory language, some minor changes may have been left behind as bigger jurisdictional decisions were made. This effort seeks to clean up remaining outdated language in the dual-use technology regulations.

The Wassenaar Arrangement is an international body established in 1996 to contribute to regional and international security and stability. The 41 participating countries agree to specific conventional arms and dual-use goods and technologies that should be controlled. Every year, participating countries meet in Vienna, Austria and decide what technologies should be controlled and how. Each country then promulgates their own regulations based on the agreed upon controls.

As a member of the Wassenaar Arrangement, much of the US’s CCL is mirrored in compliance with Wassenaar Regulations. Therefore, proposals received for updates to the CCL will be broken into two tracks, those that require an update only to US regulations and those that will need to be brought to Wassenaar and agreed upon by this international body. Although this effort will originate in the US, it has the potential to affect the international standards that most developed countries abide by.

The TACs are official committees within the Department of Commerce that advise the Department on the technical parameters for export control regulations. The committees are comprised of representatives from industry, academia, and government who are appointed by the Secretary of Commerce. The TACs include: Information Systems; Sensors and Instrumentation; Materials Processing Equipment; Materials; Transportation and Related Equipment; Regulations and Procedures; and Emerging Technologies.

The seven TACs cover the jurisdiction of all the regulatory categories of the CCL. Additionally, the TACs also advise on emerging technologies and overarching policy decisions.

Optic and Photonic Export Control Working Groups

SPIE, in conjunction with the Department of Commerce Sensors and Instrumentation Technical Advisory Committee (SITAC), has formed working groups comprised of industry and research university representatives that will assist in identifying and developing proposals related to improving the U.S. export control system in the areas of Detectors and Cameras, Lasers, and Lenses and Optics.

 Detectors & Cameras    Lasers  Lenses & Optics
  • Uncooled
  • Cooled
  • SWIR
  • Crycoolers
  • ROICs
  • Image Intensifiers
  • Fiber
  • Diode
  • High Powered

If you are interested in joining one or more of these groups contact SPIE Government Affairs Director Jennifer Douris O'Bryan.

If you would like to submit a topic for discussion at a future meeting, please fill out this form.

Optics and photonics recognized by Senate Committee

1 August 2017: Optics and photonics recognized by Senate Committee in context of export controls U.S. Senate report recognizes need for well-written regulations on export of optics and photonics technologies. Press release

SPIE Position on Export Controls

On 17 April 2017, SPIE released a position paper on 'Export Controls and its Impact on U.S. Innovation' in response to recent export control reform and the subsequent Notice of Inquiries seeking public opinion of these changes. Public comments period ended 14 March (see below).

Download Export Controls and its Impact on U.S. Innovation.

SITAC Meeting and NOI Session at Photonics West

The Sensors and Instrumentation Technical Advisory Committee (SITAC) meeting and Notice of Inquiry Session (NOI) presented at Photonics West on 1 February 2017.

Session slides:

Notices of Inquiry (NOIs): U.S. Munitions List Category XII and Commerce Control List (PDF)

The Sensors and Instrumentation Technical Advisory Commitee (SITAC) (PDF)

Webinar: 8 November 2016

SPIE Webinar:
ITAR Changes that will Impact the Optics and Photonics Community

Jennifer Douris O'Bryan, SPIE Director of Government Affairs and Vice Chair of SITAC, moderated a panel who reviewed changes to Category XII of the USML impacting ITAR regulations for both industry and research universities. 

The Panelists
Bureau of Industry and Security staff from the U.S. Department of Commerce:

  • Matthew Borman, Deputy Assistant Secretary
  • Chris Costanzo, Deputy Director, Sensors and Aviation Division
  • Steve Emme, Senior Policy Advisor
  • John Varesi, Sensors and Aviation Division

Watch the Recording

Changes to Category XII of the U.S. Munitions List

12 Oct 2016: The final export rules for U.S. Munitions List (USML) Category XII and the corresponding Commerce Control List (CCL) Category VI revisions were released 12 October 2016. These rules will impact International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) and Export Administration Regulations (EAR) for both industry and research universities.

These changes will guide export controls for sensitive military and dual-use optic and photonic technologies.

Press Releases

Press Release 10/11/16: Final Export Control rules released today by U.S. government
Press Release 2/19/16: Interim proposed ITAR rule released today by U.S. government
Press Release 6/18/15: Comment deadline looms on regulation changes proposed for U.S. export controls on photonics technologies
Press Release 5/5/15: Comments needed now from photonics industry on revisions of U.S. export rules

Other Information

Webinar Recording: Proposed Changes to the U.S. Munitions List that Will Impact ITAR, Recorded 2 March 2016
Slides from the SPIE Webinar: Proposed Changes to the U.S. Munitions List that Will Impact ITAR conducted on 12 May 2015
SPIE Category XII Webinar Q&A (Word doc)

Comments, question, need more information?
Contact Jennifer Douris O'Bryan