Expressio Unius Est Exclusio Alterius: E Pluribus (License Conditions) Unum

Posted by at 9:33 pm on December 10, 2014
Category: BIS

By Daderot (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons Bureau of Industry and Security has announced that, starting on December 8, a new license condition will appear on all validated licenses. That condition reads as follows:

Unless limited by a condition set forth below, the export, reexport or transfer (in-country) authorized by this license is for the item(s), end-use(s), and parties described in the license application and any letters of explanation. The applicant is responsible for informing the other parties identified on the license, such as ultimate consignees and end-users, of the license’s scope and of the specific conditions applicable to them. BIS has granted this license in reliance on representations the applicant made in the license application, letters of explanation, and other documents submitted.

The laudable purpose here is to get rid of the silly license conditions that simply reiterate existing requirements of the Export Administration Regulations, such as Part 744′s prohibition on nuclear end uses. BIS is concerned about possibility that the existence of, say, the no nuclear use condition will give someone the idea that it is okay to allow the exported item to be used in the production of chemical weapons in violation of section 744.4 of the EAR. Expressio unius and all that.

But I wonder, and the BIS announcement does not say, whether the language quoted above will replace the following condition that is included, in one form or another, on all licenses:

No resale, transfer, or reexport of the items listed on this license is authorized without prior authorization by the U.S. Government.

The issue here is an odd lacuna in the EAR. If you look through the General Prohibitions, there is no explicit prohibition against in-country transfers of items exported under license. The prohibitions on certain exports and re-exports do not, by definition, reach in-country transfers. Rather the General Prohibitions only address in-country transfers in connection with denial orders (General Prohibition 4) and illegally exported items (General Prohibition 10). Instead, the way that in-country transfers are prohibited is through General Prohibition 9, which prohibits violation of any license condition, such as the one quoted above, which makes clear that no in-country transfer can occur with U.S. Government approval.

The new license condition is worded in such a way that it seems possible that it will replace the standard condition prohibiting resale, transfer or re-export without government approval. But if it does, BIS will have unintentionally opened the door to unlicensed in-country transfer of items exported under license.

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New Indictment Issued in Halal Export Case

Posted by at 11:34 pm on December 9, 2014
Category: Agricultural ExportsCriminal Penalties

Midamar Halal Pizza via [Fair Use]The Feds have stepped up their game in the Midamar prosecution, initially discussed here, by indicting more defendants and providing more detail in the new indictment as to the nature of the alleged activities. The initial indictment charged William Aossey Jr. with falsely stating on export certificates that meat had been slaughtered in a Halal-certified slaughterhouse.

The new indictment adds Mr. Aossey’s sons and Midamar itself. Based on comments we received from Midamar to our original post, it appeared that a central part of Midamar’s argument was that even if the meat was not slaughtered in Halal-certified slaughterhouses, the meat was still Halal meat as represented by the company.

The facts set forth in the new indictment seem to be directly aimed at this argument, going into the specific ways in which the slaughtered meat did not comport with the Halal standards that Midamar detailed on its own website. The non-Halal practices detailed in the indictment included: (a) the use of penetrative stun guns to kill animals, (b) the slaughter of cattle by slaughtermen that were not Muslim, and (c) the slaughter of cattle without the recitation of the requisite prayers. These non-Halal practices rendered false, according to the Government’s theory, the statements on export certificates that the meat complied with the requirements of the importing countries, all of which required that such meat be Halal.

In addition to my discomfort with the prosecutor’s delving so deeply into the religious matter of what is and isn’t Halal slaughter, it seems that there is little evidence that the defendants knew that the slaughterhouses were not always complying with the letter of Muslim religious practice. The only evidence in this regard mentioned in the indictment is the relabeling of meat by Midamar employees to indicate that the meat in question came from a slaughterhouse other than the one from which the meat actually came. Above and beyond that, you have to wonder why the U.S. government is expending such considerable resources to prosecute a case which ultimately deals with whether cows were slaughtered by Muslims while reciting specified ritual prayers.

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Some Clouds Do Have Silver Linings (or Not)

Posted by at 9:15 pm on December 4, 2014
Category: BIS

Lonely Cloud by Kate Haskell CC BY 2.0 [] (cropped)In an advisory opinion dated November 13, 2014, the Bureau of Industry and Security (“BIS”) rode once again into the cloud computing breach to confront the tricky metaphysical question of when software that lives in the cloud is exported.  At issue is this: when a foreign user accesses a U.S. server running a software application, say Adobe Photoshop, has the software for the application been exported to the  foreign user? In such a scenario, the foreign user will be using the software in exactly the same fashion as if it had been download and installed on his local hard drive, with the only difference being a slight lag if his Internet connection is poor.

The BIS advisory opinion takes what might be called, in philosophical terms, a positivist approach to this question:

Instead of downloading the software and processing data locally the foreign user of a U.S. server sends its data to the cloud for processing, and causes its processed data to be transmitted back to it. Although there may be export of technology in this context, there is no export of software.

So the silver lining here, for cloud companies, is this literalist view of software exports. Software is exported when a physical disk with the software or an electrical impulse representing the code crosses a border. Just because someone uses the software remotely it has not been exported.

Now for the “Or Not” in the headline. Although BIS’s literalist approach to the download of software has a certain appeal, and is likely to be welcomed by cloud providers, there is something that the advisory opinion does not say. And this is where we can see the utter insanity of having export control scattered over competing agencies each trying to establish their own primacy in the export control domain. The advisory opinion says nothing about the rules of the Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) which, in more than a few instances, might be implicated by the cloud scenario described above. Suppose the foreign user is in, say, Iran. Although the U.S. cloud provider might not be exporting software to Iran, at least the way BIS sees it, it certainly will be exporting a service to Iran in violation of OFAC rules.

Faithful readers of this blog will likely recognize this issue, but others reading the BIS opinion might conclude that, because there is no export of the software to Iran, it is completely legal to make the program available to Iranians from a U.S. based cloud. Until all export control is moved under the control of one agency, this kind of nonsensical trap will continue to snare innocent people and businesses for no good reason.

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OFAC Gives Soccer Team a Red Card

Posted by at 7:17 pm on December 2, 2014
Category: OFAC

Envigado Soccer Team and Mascot via [Fair Use]Some wag once said that the difference between soccer and rugby is that rugby is a game played by hooligans and watched by gentlemen while soccer is played by gentlemen and watched by hooligans. Well, another difference is that no rugby team has ever been on the SDN list.

On November 19, OFAC designated Colombia’s popular soccer team, Envigado Futbol Club S.A, as a Specially Designated Narcotics Trafficker. According to an OFAC statement, the team’s owner is a “key associate within La Oficina [drug cartel] and has used his position as the team’s owner to put its finances at the service of La Oficina for many years.” It is, of course, doubtful that Envigado has, or ever will have, assets under the control of U.S. persons, so the impact of blocking the club is mostly symbolic. But as a compliance lesson, it demonstrates that you can’t ever assume that a person or entity might not have been blocked.

Fun fact: James Rodríguez, a midfielder on Colombia’s World Cup Soccer Team in 2014 and the tournament’s top goal scorer, began his soccer career with Envigado FC.

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BIS Updates FAQs on Shale Issue

Posted by at 8:54 pm on November 20, 2014
Category: BISOFACRussia Sanctions

Ocean Star Drilling Rig by Ed Schilpul [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Flickr our prior post on the Russia sanctions and export of equipment to be used in oil production and exploration in shale, we noted that BIS had not yet weighed in on whether its export ban, like OFAC’s restriction, covered only production and exploration of oil in shale and not production and exploration which went through shale to oil reservoirs below. Well, in fact BIS has also recently updated its FAQs and has reached the same conclusion as OFAC. BIS is to be commended for phrasing its FAQ on this issue in a clear and intelligible way, unlike the cryptic version posted by OFAC.

Q11: When the August 6 rule refers to shale and uses the terms exploration or production in shale, do the restricted end uses apply only to situations, such as fracking, where the hydrocarbon is located in shale formations, or do they also apply to projects involving penetrating a layer of shale to reach a reservoir located below the shale formation? What about projects that involve unconventional methods of extracting oil from shale (e.g., from shale reservoirs or oil shale processing)?

A11: The license requirements of §746.5 of the EAR apply to the specified items when you know that the item will be used directly or indirectly in exploration for, or production of, oil or gas in Russian deepwater (greater than 500 feet) or Arctic offshore locations or shale formations in Russia, or are unable to determine whether the item will be used in such projects. Thus, the license requirement applies to exploration for, or production of, oil or gas from a shale formation. The license requirement does not apply to exploration or production through shale to locate or extract crude oil or gas in reservoirs.

You can’t get any clearer than that.

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