Regulatory intelligence for US exporters

Commerce to Place Export Controls on Geospatial Imagery Software

The Commerce Department is amending the Export Administration Regulations to control exports of software designed to “automate the analysis of geospatial imagery,” Commerce said in an interim final rule. The software will be controlled under the Export Control Classification Number 0Y521 series -- a temporary holding classification that lasts for one year from the day the final rule is published. Although the agency believes it is in the U.S.’s national security interest to “immediately” control this software, Commerce is seeking comments on the interim final rule. Comments are due March 6.

Commerce determined that the software provides a “significant” military or intelligence advantage to the U.S. or should be controlled for “foreign policy reasons.” After the final rule is published, the software will require an export license for shipments to all countries except Canada, Commerce said. The software will be subject to a case-by-case license application review policy. The only license exception available for items classified under 0Y521 is for exports, re-exports and in-country transfers “made by or consigned to a department or agency of the U.S. Government” within certain EAR parameters, Commerce said.

Although the ECCN 0Y521 series is a one-year temporary classification, Commerce may extend the classification beyond the year and propose the software for control at a multilateral export control regime, such as the Wassenaar Arrangement, which the agency “plans” to do, the notice said. Commerce can also reclassify the software under another ECCN before the classification expires. If the software is not reclassified or extended before the temporary classification expires, the software will be designated as EAR99, meaning the item will be subject to the EAR but “not specified” on the Commerce Control List, Commerce said.

Specifically, Commerce is controlling geospatial imagery software designed for “training a Deep Convolutional Neural Network to automate the analysis of geospatial imagery and point clouds,” the notice said. The software must also have several capabilities, including a “graphical user interface,” an ability to reduce “pixel variation by performing scale, color, and rotational normalization,” and the ability to identify objects “in geospatial imagery … by matching the rotational pattern from the positive samples with the rotational pattern of objects in the geospatial imagery.” Exporters may submit license applications through SNAP-R -- the Bureau of Industry and Security's Simplified Network Application Process -- Redesign system -- along with “detailed descriptions and technical specifications.”