Background

The Bureau of Industry and Security is still considering potential export controls on brain-computer interface technology. For more information, please contact attorney Kristine Pirnia via email.

According to BIS, BCI frequently involves a process in which brain signals are acquired, analyzed, and then translated into commands that are used to control machines, potentially transferred to other humans, or used for human assessment or enhancement.

In October 2021 BIS sought input on (1) the potential uses of BCI technology, particularly with respect to its impact on U.S. national security (e.g., whether such technology could provide the U.S. or any of its adversaries with a qualitative military or intelligence advantage), and (2) how to ensure that the scope of any export controls that may be imposed on this technology would be effective (in terms of protecting U.S. national security interests) and appropriate (with respect to minimizing their potential impact on legitimate commercial or scientific applications).

BIS states that most of the comments it received asserted that BCI technology is used for medical purposes, is currently being monitored for future advances and commercialization, and should not be controlled.

However, given the limited number of comments and the innovations made in BCI technology in the intervening time, BIS will hold a public conference Feb. 16-17 to obtain additional information, including as to innovations, current research initiatives and applications, and national security implications. The information obtained at this conference will help BIS assess whether export controls are appropriate.

BIS plans to post a link to a recording of this conference on its website no more than seven days afterward.

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