July 1, 2014. Following years of advocacy work to clarify the treatment of printed circuit boards (PCBs) under International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), IPC is applauding the U.S. Department of State’s final rule for Category XI for Military Electronics of the United States Munitions List (USML). Published today, the new rule states that PCBs “specially designed” for defense-related purposes will be controlled under USML Category XI. Additionally, any designs or digital data related to “specially designed” PCBs will be controlled as technical data.
This is a significant win for IPC and its members, who have long advocated that PCB designs should remain under the jurisdiction of ITAR when the end item for which the board is designed is a USML item. PCBs and their designs hold valuable and specific information about the workings of the underlying defense articles themselves. In the wrong hands, these PCBs and their designs can be exploited to replicate or sabotage mission-critical defense systems. In its January 2013 comments on the proposed rule, IPC stated, “In order to fully protect defense electronics and the defense articles into which they are integrated, PCBs must be controlled in the same manner as the defense electronics for which they are designed.”
“The Department of State’s final rule for Category XI is a welcome and necessary step in the right direction,” said John Mitchell, president and CEO of IPC. “The enumeration of PCBs will begin to address current confusion in the defense industry about ITAR controls on PCBs by establishing a clearer standard for contractors who design, manufacture, or source PCBs for military use.”
Mikel Williams, president and CEO of JPS Industries, praised the association’s three-year campaign to educate policymakers on this issue. “The new rules are a testament to the value and effectiveness of IPC’s government relations efforts,” Williams said. “Today’s action is good for our industry, good for the economy, and good for national security.”