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Thread: Export restriction?

  1. #1
    Senior Member+ MichaelMeissner's Avatar
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    Export restriction?

    I went over to Sparkfun to see what new products that are there, and saw the pink limited edition Teensy 3.1. I clicked on the link to see how many they still had left (142), and saw that Sparkfun had this on the page:

    Export Restrictions

    This product has some level of export control/restriction, so may be delayed by 2-3 business day when shipping outside the United States. Contact us with questions, or we will contact you after you place your order.

    I went to the normal Teensy 3.1/LC pages, and they had the same warning. Adafruit doesn't have a warning on their pages. I don't recall crypto instructions being on the list of M4/M0 features (well the M4 has a CRC instruction, but that is hardly on the level of instructions to support AES, etc.). So, I'm wondering what 'controls' there are.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Constantin's Avatar
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    They likely put this on all MCUs that are 32 bit.

  3. #3
    Senior Member PaulStoffregen's Avatar
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    When we launched Teensy 3.0, Robin and I spent quite a bit of time looking into this.

    The restrictions don't seem to apply to the chips we're using on Teensy LC and 3.1. Some of the other Freescale Kinetis chips to have encryption features in hardware, and would have some level of export restriction. We're not using those chips.

    I'm not sure why Sparkfun added that. We certainly didn't have anything to do with it. My hunch is you're probably right, that they just automatically added it to all 32 bit products.

  4. #4
    Senior Member+ MichaelMeissner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Constantin View Post
    They likely put this on all MCUs that are 32 bit.
    Not necessarily. Neither the Raspberry Pi nor the pcDunio3 have the message about export restriction. Nor does the FreeSoC2 development board (Arm M3-Cortex). If it is something about the M4 that triggers it, the Teensy LC (M0) also has the export restriction verbage. The Intel Edison does have it.

  5. #5
    Senior Member+ Frank B's Avatar
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    We have a very big scandal here in germany these days, because of US espionage.
    Ok, makes sense to restrict encryption whereever possible....
    (joke)
    Last edited by Frank B; 05-21-2015 at 08:36 PM.

  6. #6
    Senior Member pictographer's Avatar
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    Michael, have you tried asking Sparkfun directly? They often reply to comments associated with their products.

  7. #7
    Senior Member+ MichaelMeissner's Avatar
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    No I haven't. I was just curious, particularly since they listed it and Adafruit does not. I suspect they had some issue with export paperwork, and they just blindly added the products. I knew Teensy did not include the encryption instructions.

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    Many ARM Cortex chips have an encryption hardware peripheral internally - and it supports AES256 - which used to have export restrictions to certain countries. Maybe still does.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Constantin's Avatar
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    Based on the heavy-handed experiences of some businesses re: violating export controls, I would run my business on the basis of export restricting everything until my supplier certified it as otherwise. Especially with microprocessors that may contain encryption as disseminating encryption methods may be your opportunity to enjoy the same federal-penitentiary 'benefits' as messing around with nuclear munitions per US law.

  10. #10
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    I recall that AES256 was highly restricted for years - but about 3 years ago the US policy was made less restrictive.

    Odd how the NSA and State Dept. don't seem to worry about the ciphers used for SSL/TLS for VPN, etc.

  11. #11
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    @Paul, @Robin; having ordered three of those pinkies and then been challenged with the 6 questions I consulted the purchasing officer at my work; he has acquired ~120 MK20DX256VLH7 processors in the last few months, the only ones he didn't have to answer the 6 questions for were 10 he acquired as Teensy 3.1s directly from PJRC.

    I was going to answer the 6 questions reasonably rudely till I spoke to our purchasing officer - I think you are going to have to start annoying us offshore customers with those questions guys, maybe you are allowed to keep a database of customers who have answered the 6 questions 'nicely' before but probably not.


    The questions seem fairly useless to me tho, as if somebody willing to do 'wrong things' wouldn't just do another wrong thing and lie - hurting people, taking stuff that belongs to others, mis/dis-information and supporting those with such intent and such like are all 'wrong things'; people who think it is OK (in any context, especially some sort of religious one) to do those wouldn't bat an eyelid over lying I am quite sure.

  12. #12
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    Almost absurd as renewing your US passport by mail, get/send your own photo.

  13. #13
    Senior Member+ defragster's Avatar
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    I saw some other item with that header on Sparkfun - don't find it now but it seemed odd - not the FreeSoC2 with twin M3's or the ESP8266 Thing or the M3 Photon RedBoard. Didn't the restrictions start when a Pentium P90 was the high end? Now China makes all the Core i7 and XEON servers for DELL and HP and bought Lenovo - and the high end Video cards?

    It was this simple (AVR based?) oscilloscope kit: https://www.sparkfun.com/products/12848 ???
    Last edited by defragster; 05-23-2015 at 09:02 AM.

  14. #14
    There was a view that export restrictions on crypto had been "relaxed", but that was a false feeling. http://www.goodwinprocter.com/Public...Seriously.aspx

    The only thing I can see that might cause a flag is the hardware CRC module. If there is a risk for the vendor that someone in USgov might interpret that as falling foul of the law, and attracting a hefty fine, they have to go into full CYA mode.

    In a way, it's a clever move to make the people act as police force, it's a tactic that was used effectively by other police states in East Europe.

  15. #15
    Senior Member+ MichaelMeissner's Avatar
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    Note, it isn't just the USA and restrictions of what can and cannot be exported (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Restric...f_cryptography).

    Some countries also have bans on importing cryptography equipment, including microprocessors with crypto instructions (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Restric...f_cryptography).

  16. #16
    Senior Member pictographer's Avatar
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    I sent the following email to Sparkfun customer service. I'll post an update when I get a reply.

    Hi,


    There's a banner on the Teensy 3.1 product page stating:

    Export Restrictions

    This product has some level of export control/restriction, so may be delayed by 2-3 business days when shipping outside the United States. Contact us with questions, or we will contact you after you place your order.


    Which specific export restrictions, laws or statutes are you referring to here? How did you decide the Teensy 3.1 needed this?

    Other Teensy 3.1 distributors in the US and around the world don't seem to have this restriction. I'm wondering why Sparkfun is different.


    By the way, I am in no way affiliated with PJRC. I'm just a happy customer.



    Thanks,

    John

  17. #17
    Senior Member+ MichaelMeissner's Avatar
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    Thanks pictographer. It will be interesting to see if you get a reply.

    BTW, the pink Teensy 3.1's are down to 96 at Sparkfun.

  18. #18
    Senior Member+ Frank B's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pictographer View Post
    I sent the following email to Sparkfun customer service. I'll post an update when I get a reply.

    Hi,


    There's a banner on the Teensy 3.1 product page stating:

    Export Restrictions

    This product has some level of export control/restriction, so may be delayed by 2-3 business days when shipping outside the United States. Contact us with questions, or we will contact you after you place your order.


    Which specific export restrictions, laws or statutes are you referring to here? How did you decide the Teensy 3.1 needed this?

    Other Teensy 3.1 distributors in the US and around the world don't seem to have this restriction. I'm wondering why Sparkfun is different.


    By the way, I am in no way affiliated with PJRC. I'm just a happy customer.



    Thanks,

    John
    Did you get an answer ?

  19. #19
    Senior Member pictographer's Avatar
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    There were several replies from SparkFun Electronics. On June 17, I received this clarification:

    [...]

    “This board holds a 32 bit ARM Cortex microprocessor. It is our understanding that the this particular microprocessor has a maximum clock frequency rate of 72 MHz, which means that it meets the specifications of 3A991.a.2, which calls for microprocessors having ‘a clock frequency rate exceeding 25 MHz.’”
    Hope this helps out. Please let me know if you have any other questions. I hope you have a great day!
    Casey DeLio
    Customer Service Manager
    SparkFun Electronics
    303.945.2984 -phone
    303.443.0048 -fax
    Here's the complete email exchange.
    Type your response ABOVE THIS LINE to reply
    John D. Corbett
    Subject: Teensy 3.1 export restrictions?

    JUN 17, 2015 | 01:26PM MDT
    Casey D replied:
    Hi John!
    I am very sorry for the delay. It took awhile before I received an answer to this question (it was mixed in with other questions). Here is the technical response I received:
    “This board holds a 32 bit ARM Cortex microprocessor. It is our understanding that the this particular microprocessor has a maximum clock frequency rate of 72 MHz, which means that it meets the specifications of 3A991.a.2, which calls for microprocessors having ‘a clock frequency rate exceeding 25 MHz.’”
    Hope this helps out. Please let me know if you have any other questions. I hope you have a great day!

    Casey DeLio
    Customer Service Manager
    SparkFun Electronics
    303.945.2984 -phone
    303.443.0048 -fax

    JUN 04, 2015 | 02:12PM MDT
    John replied:
    Hi Casey,

    Thank you for chasing this down for me.

    Best regards,
    John

    JUN 03, 2015 | 03:27PM MDT
    Casey D replied:
    Hi John,
    We don’t self classify and are working with another team of people to do this. I have reached out to them for the technical information. They normally send me an answer back pretty quickly so I will follow up with you when I have heard back from them.
    Thanks!

    Casey DeLio
    Customer Service Manager
    SparkFun Electronics
    303.945.2984 -phone
    303.443.0048 -fax

    MAY 29, 2015 | 12:36PM MDT
    John replied:
    Hi Casey,

    The specific details are definitely helpful. I feel like we're "getting
    warmer" in the search to answer my initial question. You mentioned that you
    didn't have specific knowledge of why the product in question was
    classified as it was. That's exactly what I'm trying to find out.

    Thanks for helping me understand this.

    Best regards,
    John

    MAY 29, 2015 | 11:13PM MDT
    Casey D replied:
    Hello John,
    The ECCN that we have been provided is 3A991.a.2. All of the export regulations that we follow are listed under Title 15 – Commerce and Foreign Trade. The BIS has PDFs on their website with each category and definition of what each ECCN means. If you’d like to take a look at category 3, you can find it here: http://www.bis.doc.gov/index.php/reg...egulations-ear.
    We have not received a complaint from any government department, but we have been working on making sure we have correct ECCNs for all products we carry (if applicable). We have found in this process that some items initially were controlled but then later found that the item really fell under EAR99.
    Unfortunately I don’t have much technical knowledge of our products, so I would need to research more into why this item was given its classification.
    Let me know if you have any additional questions. I hope you have a great day!

    Casey DeLio
    Customer Service Manager
    SparkFun Electronics
    303.945.2984 -phone
    303.443.0048 -fax

    MAY 27, 2015 | 12:09PM MDT
    John replied:
    Hi Taylor,

    Thanks for the reply. Can you give me a little more detail? I'm moderately
    familiar with US Gov't export restrictions. I'm really curious about which
    department contacted you, which specific item they complained about and
    which CFR section they referenced. I'm trying to figure out what's special
    about the Teensy 3.1 as compared to other microprocessor boards, etc.

    Thanks,
    John

    MAY 26, 2015 | 03:16PM MDT
    Taylor I replied:
    The United States Government has gotten back to us regarding many of the items we ship, and have informed us that we must ask a series of 6 questions prior to shipping items of this nature. It is completely out of our control and required by law.
    Trust me, we don’t want to have to do this, but if we don’t we are breaking the law. Many other suppliers have not checked with the US government, or have not heard back from them regarding export restrictions pertaining to these items, but since Sparkfun was made aware of these regulations, we’re doing everything in our power to be compliant. So thank you for your patience and understanding.
    We can ship this item to most places. Within 1-2 business days of order placement, you will receive a contact from our customer service team notifying you of any issues pertaining to your order’s export restrictions. Most often, we just require your answer to 6 specific questions pertaining to your specific order.
    Once we have the answer to those questions, your order will be released for shipment.
    Orders containing export regulated items can take up to 2-3 business days to ship due to this process. Thanks for your patience. Let me know if you have any further questions. Have a lovely day!

    Taylor Iversen
    Customer Service Representative
    SparkFun Electronics
    www.sparkfun.com
    303.945.2984 x609

    MAY 23, 2015 | 05:16PM MDT
    Original message
    John wrote:

    Hi,

    There's a banner on the Teensy 3.1 product page stating:

    Export Restrictions

    This product has some level of export control/restriction, so may be
    delayed by 2-3 business days when shipping outside the United States. Contact
    us <https://www.sparkfun.com/static/contact> with questions, or we will
    contact you after you place your order.

    Which specific export restrictions, laws or statutes are you referring to
    here? How did you decide the Teensy 3.1 needed this?

    Other Teensy 3.1 distributors in the US and around the world don't seem to
    have this restriction. I'm wondering why Sparkfun is different.

    By the way, I am in no way affiliated with PJRC. I'm just a happy customer.

    Thanks,
    John



    This message was sent to corbett@pictographer.com in reference to Case #: 36824.

  20. #20
    Administrator Robin's Avatar
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    I've a little more research on this and called the Bureau of Industry and Security for some clarification.

    The Freescale products we use have an ECCN (Export Control Classification Number) of 3A991.A.2. The reason for control for items with this classification is Anti-Terrorism. (see page 31 on Supplement 1 to part 774, Category 3 items)

    According to the person I spoke with, there is no license required for export and the restrictions are pretty basic.
    -Don't ship to embargoed countries
    -Dont' ship to restricted individuals/entities
    -Don't ship to weapons manufacturers

    Documentation can be found at
    http://www.bis.doc.gov/index.php/reg...egulations-ear

  21. #21
    Administrator Robin's Avatar
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    It's interesting to note that the ECCN for the Freescale part used on the Teensy 3.1 board has changed from 5A992B to 3A991.A.2. Classification 5 is for Telecom and Information Security items. This seems to be where encryption items are classified and more stringent export restrictions apply.

    Restrictions on items with encryption have actually relaxed. The BIS has published information on identifying encryption items and included the statement "Many items in which the use of encryption is ancillary to the primary function of the item are no longer controlled under Category 5, Part 2 of the Commerce Control List (CCL)."

    This page has the updated encryption information
    http://www.bis.doc.gov/index.php/pol...cryption-items

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