Export Control

Department of Justice imposes financial penalties and employment restrictions on individuals for violating U.S. export control laws

In September 2021, three former U.S. Intelligence Community employees entered into a deferred prosecution agreement related to export control violations and other illegal activity.

More specifically, the individuals provided cyber services to a UAE government agency without the proper export authorizations from the U.S. Government. They also developed a “zero-click” computer hacking and intelligence gathering software that was successfully used to illegally obtain and use access credentials for online accounts issued by U.S. companies.

Under the deferred prosecution agreement, the individuals agreed to pay penalties ranging from $335,000 to $750,000; relinquished their security clearances, with a lifetime ban on future clearances; and are subject to certain lifetime employment restrictions.

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Export Control

Settlement Reached in Princeton Biological Material Export Control Violation

Princeton University paid a penalty of $54,000 after voluntarily disclosing to the Federal Government’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) 37 occasions where it exported various genetic elements of animal pathogens without required export licenses.

Princeton’s unauthorized shipments occurred between November 2013 and March 2018, and involved the export of strains and recombinant materials to research institutions in Australia, Canada, China, India, Singapore, South Korea, and the U.K.  These items were controlled for Chemical and Biological Weapons reasons, and had a total value of approximately $27,000.

In addition to the financial penalty, Princeton is also required both to complete an internal export compliance audit and to hire an independent consultant at the University’s expense to conduct an external audit.  The university must report the results of these audits (including any actual or potential violations of the Export Administration Regulations) to BIS.

Princeton reportedly discovered these potential violations, voluntarily disclosed the information to BIS, and cooperated with all matters of the investigation to resolve the violation.  A press statement by BIS noted that self disclosure helps mitigate the penalties imposed when violations have occurred.

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Export Control

OFAC Issues Cuba Travel Restrictions

The US government has revoked several broad authorizations and imposed additional conditions related to travel to Cuba by US persons:

  • US persons must now apply for and receive specific permission (a license) to organize or attend professional meetings or conferences in Cuba.
  • OFAC has eliminated the general authorization that formerly permitted US persons to organize or participate in public performances, clinics, workshops, and many types of athletic and non-athletic competitions and exhibitions in Cuba.
  • Persons permitted to travel to Cuba under the various authorizations that remain in the regulation are prohibited from lodging, paying for lodging, or making any reservation for or on behalf of a third party to lodge at any property the US government identifies on its new “Cuba Prohibited Accommodations List (the CPA).” This prohibition includes travel in connection with permissible educational activities. It does not make illegal any transactions that were formerly authorized and that were initiated prior to the date a property is officially added to the CPA.

Note: The general license permitting full time professional research in Cuba is still valid, but complying with the terms of that authorization is challenging.  If you plan to conduct research in Cuba, please consult with us well in advance of your intended travel date.

The new restrictions became effective on September 24, 2020.

More information can be found at the following links:

Please contact us at if you would like to discuss these changes.

Export Control

BIS considers export controls on foundational technologies

On August 27, BIS published an advance notice which announced the start of their review of foundational technologies pursuant to section 1758 of the Export Control Reform Act of 2018. More specifically, BIS is considering potential export controls on “foundational technologies” as well as commodities (i.e., hardware, production equipment and materials) and software. Currently the notice only requests industry comments, which can be made through October 2020, as the Bureau seeks to define the term “foundational technologies” and understand what types of controls might be appropriate.

Then, with input on the technologies within scope, BIS could increase controls on items already subject to anti-terrorism controls on the Commerce Control List, place new controls on previously uncontrolled items classified for export as EAR99, and also establish a framework for future identification of fundamental technologies. As for a timeline, the previous implementation of restrictions concerning emerging technologies suggests that BIS could begin implementing specific new controls, or expand existing controls, on foundational technologies as soon as early 2021.

Additional Information

Export Control

Guidance Regarding Access to Online Courses and Research Outside the U.S.

For faculty and students who are outside the United States (perhaps due to reasons related to COVID-19), there may be U.S. Government restrictions on enrolling in online courses or conducting research.

U.S. sanctions place restrictions on individuals from sanctioned countries (and persons who are physically in sanctioned countries regardless of their nationality). (Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Syria, and the Crimea region of Ukraine). For example:

  • Graduate students from sanctioned countries who are outside the U.S. cannot take online courses without a license.
  • Undergraduate students from sanctioned countries who are outside the U.S. generally cannot take online courses in STEM fields without a license.
  • Graduate students from sanctioned countries who are not in the U.S. cannot conduct research or perform services for persons in the United States without a license from the US government. (this includes GRA and GTA work and related support).

For example, if an existing graduate student went home to Iran or went to another country, or if an incoming Fall student from Iran is not physically present in the U.S., but instead is in Iran or some country other than the U.S., then they cannot enroll in Mason’s online classes or conduct research unless we receive a license from the U.S. Government.

What Solutions are Available?

Our office can apply for licenses from the U.S. Government to permit students to take courses or to permit students or faculty to conduct research while abroad, but time is very short for this solution in the near term. It is now unlikely that we will receive licenses in time for the Fall 2020 semester. With this in mind, you and your student may wish to consider deferring student attendance until Spring 2021 (or later).

If your student can be physically present in the U.S. in Spring 2021, they will be able to take Mason’s online courses and conduct fundamental research without a license. However, if the student cannot be physically present in the U.S. in Spring 2021, we will need to apply for a license from the U.S. federal government that would authorize any coursework or research they might conduct while abroad, and we should do that as soon as possible.

In short, if you believe you or one of your students may need a license, please contact as soon as possible, so that we can begin the process. In addition, if your preferred solution involves paying a student to perform GTA, GRA, or other services while abroad, there are international tax implications that add significant additional expenses that should be considered by all relevant parties. Please contact Mason’s International Tax Office for more information about this issue. (

Please contact us at if you have any questions about these federal requirements.

Last updated 7/13/2020