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U.S. Drops Plan To Restrict Foreign Researchers

New rules requested by the Pentagon would have limited foreign researchers' access to sensitive U.S. technologies.

WASHINGTON — The Commerce Department has withdrawn proposed changes to export rules that would have tighten restrictions on foreign researchers working in the U.S.

The department's Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) said last week it is withdrawing two "deemed" exports proposals that originated with the Defense Department. They would have limited foreign researchers' access to sensitive U.S. technologies.

According to the Commerce Department, "An export of technology or source code (except encryption source code) is 'deemed' to take place when it is released to a foreign national within the United States."

The bureau said in a ruling published in the Federal Register that it "determined that the current licensing requirement based upon a foreign national's country of citizenship or permanent residency is appropriate."

The Pentagon was seeking to tighten restrictions on deemed exports to restrict the flow of technical knowledge to potential enemies. The new restrictions would have among other things affected contracts for classified scientific research involving foreign nationals.

Universities and research groups vigorously opposed the plan in comments filed with the Commerce Department. BIS said its decision to withdraw the proposals reflected most of the public comments filed in response to a proposed rulemaking.

"Almost without exception, the comments stated clear opposition to [a] recommendation that deemed export licenses be based on a foreign national's country of birth rather than country of citizenship," it said.

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