Wars are won and lost as a result of many factors. One factor that is often overlooked is the role that information plays in the outcome of any struggle. For example, the fake army commanded by General George S. Patton at Calais convinced the Axis powers that the Allies were going to take the shortest invasion route across the English Channel during World War II. This was false information. The Germans were deceived, and we crossed at Normandy instead.
Similarly, when the Allies cracked the Enigma machine, it also provided valuable information to the Allied war effort. Suddenly, we had insight into many of the German strategies and war plans – sometimes before their own troops did!
What does this have to do with export control? Namely, the fact that information and data are critical to understanding and complying with the U.S. export regulations. If the United States and its allies wish to keep foreign governments from accessing certain technologies and products, then one of the most important control functions surrounds the knowledge of how we design, develop, manufacture, assemble, control quality and/or use those items. This is about controlling access to prints, specifications, manufacturing plans, tooling drawings, inspection techniques, or software which can be used to produce certain goods.
And in today’s digital world, such controls are more important than ever. In fact, it is safe to say that the U.S. government will continue to make deemed export violations and data control a top priority for its enforcement teams for the near future.
Despite this fact, I still hear from many corporate leaders who say, “We don’t export anything.” Only to follow-up this statement with, “Well, we do send our drawings and specs to [insert foreign supplier here].”
To comply with the regulations, companies must take data access seriously. Don’t fall prey to the myth that “My data isn’t important enough to warrant controls.” Every single bit of data surrounding certain items is another piece of the puzzle, which can help the enemy gain a foothold on our technologies, capabilities and systems. These days, the exchange of information occurs at blinding speeds all across our planet. Export violations can occur – literally – in the blink of an eye. Your company must take comprehensive steps to regulate and control this global flow of information.
The problem is not going away. But it is becoming more manageable. Export Solutions is currently evaluating services with vendors like IndigoRidge. With 100% U.S. citizen employees, high-end encryption, and dedicated, U.S.-based servers, IndigoRidge takes a giant step in helping companies mitigate export violation risks, while also providing world-class IT service and support.
Patton famously said: “A pint of sweat will save a gallon of blood.”
If you have concerns about the way your company handles data, and are ready to get serious about controlling it, then let us help you devise an affordable solution that mitigates your risk. By putting in some “sweat” now, we can all work to make sure that our nation’s blood is protected from those who would do us the most harm.
Don Buehler is founder and president of Export Solutions, Inc., a consultancy firm which specializes in helping companies comply with ITAR and EAR.