ITAR Policy: Camera Phones

A reader recently asked me:

There has been a question of cell phones with cameras in them. Is there a policy or a standard practice we can incorporate? Should we have all guests and employees leave them in their cars or store them in specified places?

Off the top of my head, there are three issues of concern with a question like this:

  1. Employees: The exporter (or whoever is holding the controlled goods) needs to be aware of the rules regarding the export of technical information and relay that to their employees.  Essentially, make them aware that they’re not allowed to snap pictures and send them overseas to sales contacts, technical personnel, etc. without going through your office’s documented compliance procedure.  You can do this by collecting and storing electronic devices, or with a brief employee seminar and possibly a sign-off sheet indicating that they’ve been informed.
  2. Foreign National Visitors: Foreign national visitors should not be allowed the use of cell phones or other photographic or recording equipment while touring a facility.  More importantly, foreign national visitors shouldn’t even be exposed to export restricted items, much less have the opportunity to photograph them.
  3. Other Visitors: If you have sensitive goods that are subject to export controls, a guest check-in procedure should be part of your compliance program.  You can either take this opportunity to confiscate cell phones, or simply make guests aware that photography is prohibited.  Since they’ll need to be escorted by one of your employees, just make sure the employee is aware that the guests aren’t allowed to take pictures.  Remember that even though your guests may be US citizens, it’s best to err on the side of caution by not exposing them to export restricted material.

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