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SPIE calls on US government to be ‘reasonable’ with controls on exports of emerging technologies

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SPIE CEO Kent Rochford has responded to the US government’s proposed change to rules regarding the export of emerging technologies, urging that they are ‘reasonable and balanced’. 
 
An Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) follows legislation passed by Congress in August in response to concerns that some emerging technologies have not been evaluated for their national security risk, and are therefore not controlled through regulation. Many of the technologies listed in the ANPRM are vital to the optics and photonics community, and any changes to their classification for export control could have a broad impact.
 
‘Should specific proposed rules move forward covering one of these areas, SPIE stands ready to engage the relevant stakeholders to ensure that controls are reasonable and balanced,’ Rochford said. 

SPIE’s comments emphasised that controls should not be established too broadly or too early in the development of emerging technology. When technology is mature enough, any controls should be applied only to those technologies with military applications or national security concerns, by specifying performance parameters relevant to these interests. Premature or far-reaching controls may undermine the development of commercial applications that could drive substantial economic growth, and decisions must balance national security with economic security. 
 
SPIE – which represents stakeholders in multiple areas covered in the ANPRM, including biotechnology, AI and machine learning – highlighted that research teams in the US working in the listed fields are highly international, and the impact of export controls on the research community should be considered. Also, foreign availability is an important factor, plus whether established controls will be accepted by other Wassenaar-member countries. Export controls are to prevent proliferation of a given technology: if this cannot be accomplished, controls should not be applied.
 
According to SPIE, this is the beginning of a process that will result in a series of proposed regulations regarding the individual technologies listed in the ANPRM.