US To Reformat Export Control for Military Systems

In front of a group of ‘Business Executives for National Security’, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates proposed an overhaul of the US Export Control system currently in place. The reason: as formatted, it doesn’t do much to protect either national security or our technical intellectual property. (Article as reported by

“The United States is thought to have one of the most stringent export regimes in the world, but stringent is not the same as effective,” Gates said.

The policy overhaul as described by Secretary Gates will have two major changes to the way that Government operates today. The first is that the dual responsibility of the Department of Defense and the Department of Commerce will be consolidated into a single office. The location of that office was not specified, though I suspect the military will be heavily involved because of the increasing volumes of military system Foreign Military Sales. Also, of course, because of the explosion of interest and investment in anti-tamper technologies by the Department of Defense.

The second major change is that technology ‘tiers’ will be identified and defined. This means that technologies and components will not just be defined in a binary fashion as ‘military critical’ or ‘not military critical’, but in different classes based on applicability to military usage. Gates explains this will make it easier to create targets policies to make it harder to export specific technologies, but easier to navigate the system for legitimate Foreign Military Sales to allies.

There are two very obvious impacts on the business of secure processors. The first is that the ‘secure processor’ itself, as an anti-tamper technology, is likely to be a technology of some interest in new export control rules. More than likely, export of technologies like the Acalis Secure Processor will see an increase in export control restrictions. Second, it will become clearer which kinds of systems and technologies are considered by the US Government to be targets of anti-tamper system requirements. These requirements, levied currently on defense systems, my find application in more critical infrastructure and commercial applications.


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