export-controls 22 November 2019

Kiwi academics attack government catch-all proposals

‘Lack of clear guidance’ from government could bring ‘potentially chilling’ results.

In a submission to the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (‘MFAT’), a group of academics has criticised plans, outlined in a recent consultation, for the introduction of new catch-all controls. (For more on the consultation, see issue 84 of WorldECR).

In the public document, representatives of eight universities and a number of additional research groups said:

‘While we acknowledge the sentiment of the proposed regulatory changes, the proposal in its current form is unworkable. The lack of clear guidance as to what is and is not in scope of the policy creates potential for Government to be overly cautious in determining which technologies are encompassed – with a potentially chilling impact on valuable research and knowledge sharing.’

The academics argue that as a result of that ‘lack of clear guidance’, researchers ‘may simply decide that only the most extreme technologies fall within scope – with the effect that the policy fails in its objectives,’ and that research organisations ‘simply cannot predict what all technologies will be used for in the future and therefore cannot be held accountable for failing to do so.’

Nor, say the academics, ‘can research organisations identify all the military or other affiliations of offshore entities or individuals. MFAT is in a much better position to do this and need to take greater responsibility and accountability for assessing technology risk and vetting offshore collaborators/partners/purchasers.’