US government allows release of certain technology in the context of standards-setting processes

US government’s Bureau of Industry and Security is allowing the release of specific technology in standards-setting processes without a license, addressing concerns from the tech industry. This change aims to enhance international standardization processes, emphasizing that standards are vital not just for technology but for economic, social, and geopolitical aspects.

The Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) within the US Department of Commerce has announced revisions to the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) to authorise the release of certain technology and software in the context of standards-development processes. The revisions have been introduced to address concerns the US tech industry raised over uncertainty about whether BIS licences were required to release low-level technology for standards-setting activities. Under the new rules, certain technologies subject to EAR can be released to entities on the Entity List without a license from the BIS if the release happens in the context of a standard-development process and the resulting standard is published. (The Entity List is a list of foreign entities subject to specific license requirements for the export or transfer of specified items.) The BIS notes that ‘the requirement that the standard be published undermined any risk of unwanted transfer of proprietary technology’. The change is expected to facilitate the ‘full engagement’ of US stakeholders in international standards-developing processes. In recent years, the USA and other governments have started paying increased attention to international standardisation processes, noting that standards are not only about technology but also have economic, social, and geopolitical implications.