No big news today, so it’s time for another Export Law Blog grab bag, this time with an emphasis on some Middle East stories:
- Saudi Arabia: This news report discloses that immigration officials in Saudi Arabia are scanning incoming electronic devices in search of pornography and pirated software. Before moving this to the “this won’t be a problem for me” column, remember that the Saudis have a more expansive view of pornography than you or I might and that it could include pictures that the puritanical Wahabbi inspector finds provocative. Electronic devices are said to include laptops, mp3 players, cell phone memory cards, flash drives, external hard drives and any other device that could harbor morally pernicious images. If such material is found, the device will be confiscated. You might try to claim that a genie put the images there, but I can’t guarantee that will be a successful defense. (UPDATE: A reader emails me to tell me that he knows of instances where Saudi immigration/customs seized Disney films on the grounds that talking animals were offensive.)
- UAE: A software update pushed to Blackberry users in the UAE apparently contained spyware from California-based SS8. The spyware was a java application designed to intercept emails and text messages sent and received by the Blackberry user and then forward them to a central server where they could be examined more closely by UAE authorities. We assume that SS8 had a license for this since such software is classified under ECCN 5D980, which requires licenses to all destinations. The licensing policy set forth in section 742.13(b) indicates that licenses will ordinarily be given to telcom companies and their contractors. Of course, one wishes that the UAE spent as much time enforcing its own export controls as it does worrying about what its subjects are texting one another.
- Syria: This blog reported last week on the sad fortunes of Orionair as a result of a Temporary Denial Order (“TDO”) issued by the Bureau of Industry and Security (“BIS”) once it learned that the company had entered into a wet lease with Syrian Pearl airlines of two BAE aircraft with U.S. engines. The report was based on a story in Madrid’s Spanish-language daily CincoDías, which reported that BAE informed Orionair that it couldn’t return the aircraft that it was servicing to Orianair even before the TDO had been published. Apparently the CincoDías story was inaccurate in two minor respects. First, BAE didn’t take any action until it received a signed copy of the TDO. Second, BAE’s only communication was with Flybe, the maintenance provider, and not directly with Orionair. BAE, further did not advise Flybe that the aircraft had to remain in the United Kingdom, although the terms of the TDO clearly required that the aircraft not be exported back to Orionair in Spain. One other thing bears mention. In the TDO, BIS claimed that Orionair agreed not to export the BAE aircraft to Syria, although Orionair’s account seems to differ from this, particularly inasmuch as Orionair says it told BIS, in the words of Dorothy Gale, that it “had no power here.”