Certain countries are subject to U.S. embargos. For example, Stanford students cannot travel to Cuba to conduct research for a term paper. Also, hardware that goes along with some of the exempted activities might require export licenses.

Regulated information is information not intended to be broadly shared with the scientific community. But in the conduct of research, the university may need access to proprietary or disclosure-restricted information to generate results. This is true domestically and internationally. The third parties could be overseas corporations or non-profits. So information and related hardware covered in non-disclosure agreements, commercial licensing agreements, procurement agreements, and material transfer agreements are subject to restriction if they deal with regulated technologies or technical information. The vast majority of these come from the commercial sector, not the military.

Examples include acoustic dopplers that Stanford faculty might use for mapping sea beds and ocean tides around the world. Stanford will not make its own, but will buy them from a company, which will provide a technical manual and train university personnel in how to use them. That activity may be regulated.

Mr. Eisner went on to explain that in addition, transfers of some types of technological knowledge to foreign nationals within the United States may be regulated, and are known as “deemed exports.” These can occur on campus. Increasingly, universities have to deal with issues related to deemed exports, since the number of foreign nationals in U.S. science and engineering graduate programs and post-doctoral positions has grown significantly over the years.

The extraterritorial reach of U.S. law can offend foreign research partners overseas and foreign students in the United States, retarding short-term and long-term relationships. Stanford does quite a bit of fundamental space science research, which is regulated as a munitions activity, and this constitutes a significant barrier to international collaboration. Sharing such information at conferences outside the United States, particularly in non-NATO countries, can be problematic.

The question arises whether our export control regime should be reformed, particularly for technologies that are widely available outside the United States. The National Academies report Beyond Fortress America (2009) covered many of these issues.

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