Technical data regarding controlled technologies may not be disclosed to foreign nationals without an export license. Disclosure may occur in many ways, including through presentations or publications.
What is Technical Data?
- "Information... required for the design, development, production, manufacture, assembly, operation, repair, testing, maintenance or modification of defense articles" (22 CFR 120.10). Note that "defense articles" includes essentially all space-based research.
- It does NOT include information concerning "general scientific, mathematical or engineering principles"
- It does NOT include information already in the public domain, such as that available through unrestricted publications, unlimited distribution at conferences, or libraries (22 CFR 120.11)
- It does NOT include fundamental research "where the resulting information is ordinarily published and shared broadly in the scientific community." (22 CFR 120.11)
Questions to ask
- Will the information being presented or published be accessible to foreign persons?
It is hard to imagine many situations in which one could be certain that no non-US citizens would have access to information in a presentation, much less a publication. However, if one could be confident of this, export control regulations would not apply.
- Does the information pertain to a controlled technology?
Controlled technologies include both those that have military applications (including nearly all space research) and dual-use technologies that may have military as well as civilian applications. (See also Dual Use Research of Concern.) If the information being presented does not pertain to a controlled technology, export control regulations would not apply.
- Is the information being presented or published already in the public domain?
If the information is already broadly available, it does not constitute technical data and may be disclosed freely. Public domain includes information that has already been presented or published in venues that are generally available, information that is generally available through libraries, or information that is commonly taught in high school, college, or university courses that are open to all students. The public domain exception does not apply to "defense services" (22 CFR 124.1(a)). Conveying information that pertains to the design, manufacture, or maintenance of the equipment itself may be considered as providing "defense services." "Defense services" includes both formal training in the use of the technology and more informal sharing of technical data with foreign persons.
- Does the presentation involve only general scientific principles, or does it also involve information that is directly related to the design, manufacture and operational use of the technology (see above definition of "technical data")?
Description of general scientific principles is allowed under the "Fundamental Research Exclusion" as long as the research is being conducted at an accredited US university, there are no contractual restrictions on its publication and dissemination, and the information presentation does not constitute a "defense service" (see question 3 for a definition of defense services).
- Was the technical information being presented generated by the research team, or was it provided to the research team by another source (e.g., an industrial partner)?
"University-generated" information is generally protected by the Fundamental Research Exclusion, as long as there are no restrictions on its publication and dissemination. However, this exclusion may not apply to information that is provided to university researchers by another party, such as a sponsor or industrial partner. This information should have been marked as "export controlled" by the third party, and should not be included in presentations or publications.
If you have questions, feel free to contact Linda Morris in the Export Controls Office.