Contributing Lawyers


Cyndee Todgham Cherniak

United States

Susan Kohn Ross


Andrew Hudson

Two Clues That Geographic Mapping Companies Must Have Export Permits

There are two recent clues that businesses that use satellites to map the earth's surface must have export controls registrations and licenses. The first clue is that Canada's Minister of Industry rejected the sale from MDA to Alliant for many reasons, including the national security of Canada.  There was a concern over the ues of the satellites to send images of the Northern Passage.

The second clue is that the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has demanded that American participants of the Google Lunar X Prize "obtain a license if their spacecraft are "capable of actively or passively sensing the Earth's surface, including bodies of water, from space by making use of the properties of the electromagnetic waves emitted, reflected, or diffracted by the sensed objects". (see the following comment -

What would be the basis for the requirement to undertake export controls registrations and to obtain export licenses, the technology has a dual use.  The technology may be used for both civilian and military purposes.  While the technology company may not have military purposes in mind when they design and develop their products, potential users may see the potential for the military (or adverse) use.

We should have identified the first clue as the CNN news reports of weapons of mass destruction and transport vehicles in Iraq - these were satellite images of activities (or not) on the ground in Iraq.  We have also seen news reports which show satellite images of bombings.  The news reporters have not hacked into the U.S. Department of Defense, they are using available technology.


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