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International Compliance Considerations – Export Controls

Purpose of Export Controls

U.S. Export Controls regulate the distribution by any means (i.e., research) of strategically important “things” because of U.S. foreign policy, national security, nonproliferation, economic interests and international obligations. The original intent of export controls was to regulate technologies present in industry, not academia; however, the expansive “research drift” of industrial research and development conducted at universities requires monitoring of compliance.

The purpose of export controls include:

  • Denying military and dual-use technology to individuals, entities, and countries
  • Furthering U.S. foreign policy interests
  • Preventing terrorism, weapons proliferation, narcotics trafficking, etc.
  • Satisfying multilateral obligations

Technologies are regulated for: 

Crime control, anti-terrorism, non-proliferation, regional stability, short supply, national security, embargoes, sanctions, human rights, chemical and biological agents, encryption, firearms, missile tech, surreptitious listening, and military technology.

What Are Export Controls as Related to Research?

Technical data related to certain technologies may be subject to federal restriction that prohibit transfer of technology or technical knowledge to foreign persons.

Regulated technologies are described in detail in federal regulations and include the

  • Export Administration Regulations (EAR)
  • International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR)
  • Nuclear Regulatory Commission
  • Department of Energy Regulations pertaining to nuclear equipment, materials and international atomic energy activities, and
  • The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) economic sanctions and embargoes.

Export controls may restrict:

  • research on certain technologies
  • performing research for the benefit of a foreign person
  • foreign person access to ongoing research activities and results, and
  • access to certain equipment, data, methods, IP, know-how, lab notebooks, or anything related to the research.

What technologies are subject to export controls?

Each export control regulation contains a separate list of controlled technologies such as lasers, turbines, or high-speed cameras. Military technologies include electronics, spacecraft, or developmental and experimental devices.

What University Activities are not Subject to Export Controls?

Most university activities are not subject to export controls. Public information related to technologies (patents, technical descriptions, processes, etc.,) that are published are not subject to export controls. Official educational courses are excluded from export controls, with a few limited exceptions such as certain nuclear technology. Public domain results of most research activities are not subject to export controls under an exclusionary rule known as the “fundamental research exclusion.” However, many activities do not meet the legal requirements of the fundamental research exclusion, including:

  • Accepting national security restrictions as part of an agreement
  • Accepting publication review and approval requirements
  • Distribution limitations on research results, whether imposed by a sponsor, or the researcher
  • Foreign national participation restrictions
  • Inclusion of non-public proprietary technology separately subject to export controls into research
  • The provision of “defense services” in conjunction with research

What is the UCF Export Control Policy?

The UCF Export Control Policy 4-209 states “UCF is committed to compliance with federal export control laws, regulations and sanctions. The Office of Export Controls Compliance is the designated authority charged with compliance oversight of U.S. export control requirements for sponsored program activities and has final authority on such matters. Individuals acting on behalf of the university are responsible for the proper handling, transfer, access, storage, control and dissemination of export controlled hardware, software, information, technology and technical data to destinations and persons outside of the U.S., as well as in some cases, to Foreign Nationals at the university engaged in instruction, conducting research, or providing service activities.”

What are the consequences for violating export controls?

Penalties for export control violations are very serious and can be separately applied to both UCF and individual violators and include civil and criminal penalties including fines and/or imprisonment. Less stringent violations include loss of funding, debarment, or ability to engage in export-controlled research. Reese Roth, an Emeritus Professor at the University of Tennessee was sentenced to four years in prison for violating contractual export controls related to military research conducted at an incubator company. Texas Tech Professor Thomas Butler received a two year prison sentence for exports of plague bacteria and was terminated from his position.

Who Should you contact for additional information?

UCF personnel engaging in research or requiring additional information should contact the Office of Export Controls at 407-882-0660 or via email at