On July 17, 2020, the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) issued a Notice of Inquiry seeking public comment on the list of items on the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) Commerce Control List (CCL) that are controlled for crime control and detection (CC) reasons.  Comments must be received no later than September 15, 2020.

BIS controls CC items to promote human rights throughout the world.  The Notice states that “CC items of particular interest for new license requirements by BIS include facial recognition software and other biometric systems for surveillance, nonlethal visual disruption lasers, and long range acoustic devices and their components, software, and technologies.”  BIS is also seeking comments on the merits of removing or modifying the CC controls on several items currently on the CCL, and on potential controls for such items that are end-use/end-user based.  Items of interest are those below and related items:

  • Facial recognition devices for individual or for crowd scanning, other biometric systems, and related software;
  • Non-lethal visual disruption lasers (“dazzlers”);
  • Long-range acoustic devices (LRAD) related components, software, and technologies for the above items;
  • Police helmets (ECCN 0A979);
  • Fingerprint readers (ECCN 3A981), and components (3A981, 4A980), software (3D980, 4D980), and technology (3E980, 4A980);
  • Fingerprint powders, dyes, and inks (ECCN 1A985);
  • Voice print identification systems (ECCN 3A980) and components (3A980), software (3D980), and technology (3E980);
  • Polygraphs and psychological stress analysis equipment (ECCN 3A981) and components (3A981), software (3D980), and technology (3E980);
  • Nonmilitary mobile crime science laboratories (ECCN 9A980);
  • Miscellaneous CC controls in ECCNs and sub-paragraphs of ECCNs 4A003, 4A980, 4D001, 4D980, 4E001, 4E980 covering certain computers, software and technology; and, ECCNs 6A002, 6E001, and 6E002 covering certain optical sensors, equipment and technology.

With regard to facial recognition devices, BIS is particularly interested in public comment on high-resolution cameras currently classified as EAR99 on the CCL, specifically such cameras’ utility as inputs to crowd surveillance systems, and the implications of placing them under new export controls.  The Notice indicates that In addition to law enforcement and public safety-related uses, crowd scanning systems (i.e., cameras) can also be used to facilitate the abuse of human rights.  In an indication of potential concern and/or the possible application of export controls, BIS notes that “China, for example, has deployed facial recognition technology in the Xinjiang region, in which there has been repression, mass arbitrary detention and high technology surveillance against Uighurs, Kazakhs and other members of Muslim minority groups.”

BIS seeks input on: (1) Information (including performance criteria) that may distinguish purely or predominantly consumer or commercial applications from applications purely or predominantly for use by law enforcement or security services and/or used in mass surveillance, censorship, privacy violations or otherwise useful in committing human rights abuses; (2) the impact of adding to, modifying, or removing items from the CCL on U.S. support of human rights throughout the world; and (3) the impact that changes of controls would have upon the competitiveness of U.S. business and industry.  The Notice adds that BIS “welcomes comments on the update of controls on other items for surveillance and crowd control as well as on related issues of concern to the public.”

Comments should be submitted on-line via the Federal rulemaking portal at http://www.regulations.gov, and searching for Docket No. BIS- 2020-0021. All comments (including any personally identifying information) will be made available for public inspection and copying.  BIS will also accept comments by mail or delivery to the Regulatory Policy Division, Bureau of Industry and Security, U.S. Department of Commerce, Room 2099B, 14th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20230. Refer to RIN 0694-XC056.