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Finding Common Ground: U.S. Export Controls in a Changed Global Environment
control lists. A revised procedure could serve as a proactive mechanism for decontrolling some product classes.
High-performance computers have been subjected to rigorous and cumbersome export controls for years. The advancing capability of both high performance and mainstream computing has made established static thresholds for supercomputers obsolete. A more reasonable approach for indexing levels of performance would track ongoing advances in computing technology. The subpanel does not recommend the removal of all controls on supercomputers, however.
Interconnected computer networks now extend worldwide. Transborder data flow and network access are commonplace, and demand for network security products has increased significantly for a range of commercial enduse applications. U.S. industry has lost its competitive lead in the design, manufacture, and testing of protocols and network products. Global competition will be directed toward increases in data transfer performance and lower costs. It is not practical to expect legislative or regulative solutions to control unauthorized flows of technical data over networks. The first line of defense must lie in protection of data against unauthorized access.
Software sold over the counter should be decontrolled worldwide; the sale and distribution of other object code should be decontrolled within the member countries of the Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Controls (CoCom), but subjected to licensing controls for other nations. Source code to such object code should be tightly controlled.
The traditional computing industry in the Soviet Union has undergone considerable changes. The potential for technology transfers has increased greatly, which makes it even harder to restrict the flow of Western technology. Soviet attempts to acquire Western technology can be expected to continue.
Monitoring of technological developments with military applications of concern to national security should continue and be extended. More comprehensive attention should be paid to commercial as well as military applications in a much larger number of countries, including both developed and newly industrializing nations.
The computer industry (including the manufacture of computer hardware, software, microelectronics, and telecommunications equipment) is, in a number of ways, quite different from the other industrial sectors examined by the study's subpanels. Manufacture does not require scarce raw materials, and given the necessary capital and expertise, can take place almost anywhere. Product assembly from components requires moderate technical knowledge and can make use of a relatively unspecialized work force. Moreover, the pace of innovation is very rapid, and new technological generations