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Export Control License Application Data Safe from Public Release for Four Years

Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

Federal lawmakers acted this month to ensure that data on export control license applications remains exempt from disclosure under the Freedom Of Information Act. A provision in the Naval Vessel Transfer Act of 2013 (S. 1683) grants this exemption retroactive to Aug. 20, 2001, the date the Export Administration Act last expired, and going forward four years. S. 1683 has been approved by the House and Senate but has not yet been signed by the president.

According to press reports, the extension of the exemption could render moot a lawsuit now before a federal appeals court in California that is seeking to force the Bureau of Industry and Security to disclose information on specific export license applications. A lower court ruled in 2013 that BIS cannot keep this information secret by claiming the exemption in section 12(c) of the EAA that specifically applies to export license application information. That court pointed out that the EAA is no longer in effect and that the executive orders under which EAA authorities are being perpetuated each year (which are issued under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act) do not have the same legal effect. By retroactively reinstating section 12(c), S. 1683 could address this problem.

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