US Commerce considers export changes impacting photonics

Share this on social media:

The US Department of Commerce is now accepting comments on how to control emerging technologies for export.

Such technologies include those for quantum devices, artificial intelligence, and biotechnology. Many of these emerging technologies are critical to the optics and photonics community, and any changes to their classification for export control could have a broad impact, warned Jennifer Douris O'Bryan, the government affairs director for SPIE.

The comment period, which began on 19 November, is 30 days, ending on 18 December. Public comments can be made here:

This request stems from the concern that some technologies, which are still considered emerging, have not been evaluated for their national security risk, and therefore are currently not controlled through regulation. Douris O'Bryan remarked that it is vital the photonics industry help shape these decisions.

There are 14 technology areas that the US government is evaluating, which are: biotechnology; AI and machine learning; position, navigation, and timing technology; microprocessors; advanced computing; data analytics; quantum information and sensing; logistics; additive manufacturing; robotics; brain-computer interfaces; hypersonics; advanced materials; and advanced surveillance technologies.

In addition to seeking criteria to apply in controlling these technologies, Commerce also seeks information on the current status of development of the technologies, both in the US and internationally, and what impact export controls would have on US technological leadership.

Kent Rochford, CEO of SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, commented: ‘I encourage all members of the US-based optics and photonics community to weigh in on this important issue with feedback, comments, and suggestions, so that we can ensure that these decisions are made with the most accurate and complete information possible.’

The Advanced Notice of Proposed Rule Making (ANPRM) is a direct result of legislation passed by congress in August titled: the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernisation Act (FIRRMA). SPIE covered the details of this legislation in an article posted in October.

Provisions in this new law require any new controls adopted by the US as part of this review and control process to be brought to the Wassenaar Arrangement, the international body which sets control standards for 42 other countries.

These and other issues related to export controls will be discussed in a series of meetings on 5 and 6 February at the upcoming Photonics West conference in San Francisco, California.