U.S. Department of Commerce Imposes Immediate Export Controls on Artificial Intelligence Software Used to Automatically Detect and Identify Objects Remotely

On January 6, 2020, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) published an interim final rule amending the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) to place new restrictions on the export of certain software specially designed for automating the analysis of geospatial imagery and collections of data points.

This new rule sheds light on U.S. government concerns regarding the application of artificial intelligence (AI) to the analysis of increasingly available, large geospatial data sets, and the specific role it can play in remotely detecting and identifying objects of interest for military and intelligence purposes. The use of an emergency authorization to make these controls effective immediately also underscores the perceived urgency in controlling the transfer of this technology to non-allied countries. In addition to their impact on U.S. trade, the new restrictions will have important implications for reviews of foreign investment in U.S. companies by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).

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