New restrictions have been imposed on the export of certain AI programs to keep sensitive technologies out of the hands of rival powers like China. Under this new rule, companies exporting certain types of geospatial imagery software from the United States would have to apply for a license to send such software overseas except when it’s being shipped to Canada, reports Reuters.
The ban came into force today and is the first one to be applied under a 2018 law known as Export Control Reform Act (ECRA). Software including sensors, drones, and satellites used to automate the process of identifying targets for military and civilian ends, are included under the new rule. This is the first measure that has been finalized by the Commerce Department under a mandate from a 2018 law. The rule would go into effect in the United States, however, U.S. authorities might later submit it to international bodies to create a level playing field globally.
“They want to keep American companies from helping the Chinese make better AI products that can help their military,” said James Lewis, a technology expert, Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank. The ban comes amidst the growing concerns among the Republican and Democratic lawmakers surrounding the toughening up of export controls. Senate Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, also urged the Commerce Department to speed up the process.
“While the government believes that it is in the national security interests of the United States to immediately implement these controls, it also wants to provide the interested public with an opportunity to comment on the control of new items,” mentioned the rule release.