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Australian Export Controls and the Life Sciences

A guide to understanding export control laws regarding the physical export, intangible supply, publication or brokering of life sciences related goods, software or technology

4: When is a permit not required?

The Defence Trade Controls Act 2012 contains several circumstances where the supply or publication of ‘DSGL technology’ does not require a permit. In general, discussions and publication of Part 2 ‘DSGL technology’ does not require a permit.

IMPORTANT: If you know or suspect that goods, software and technology will be used in a weapons of mass destruction (WMD) program, or that the supply of ‘DSGL technology’ will be for a military end use, you should not proceed with the activity without first contacting Defence Export Controls.

4.1: Oral supply

You do not require a permit when orally supplying DSGL-listed software and technology, for example by:

  • having a telephone conversation;
  • being party to a video conference;
  • live streaming; or
  • talking to a person at a conference, seminar, or similar event (whether in Australia or overseas).

Most importantly, given the specific and generally high thresholds for any technology to meet the controlled threshold in the DSGL, and given how complex controlled technology is, it is highly unlikely that controlled technology will be conveyed orally.

You will need a permit if you are orally supplying a person access to technology (e.g. providing a password) or the orally-supplied technology will be used in a Weapons of Mass Destruction program or for a military end-use. Please see below for examples:

  • Oral supply exception applies: Kate has a telephone conference with her research partners in Germany. During that conversation, Kate discusses DSGL technology. The oral supply exception applies and therefore a permit is not required. However, as mentioned above, it is highly unlikely that controlled technology will ever be conveyed orally.
  • Oral supply exception does not apply: Kate has a telephone conference with her research partners in Germany. During that conversation, Kate orally provides her colleagues with a password to access a cloud server, so that they can share DSGL controlled technology. The oral supply exception does not apply as Kate is providing access to DSGL technology. Therefore, a permit is required.

4.1.1: Presenting at an overseas conference

It is very unlikely you will need a permit to present at a conference or to send (or take) a presentation to a conference. It would be rare for technology contained in a conference paper or presentation to meet the specific thresholds in the DSGL that would make it controlled. DSGL thresholds are very specific and generally high and it would be rare for a conference paper to contain information that met these thresholds. Also, the presentation of slides at a conference would be considered as a publication, so the forwarding of slides to conference organisers would be exempt, as it is a pre-publication supply.  Any researcher who believes their conference paper meets the DSGL threshold should contact Defence Export Controls for an assessment.

4.2: Publication of Part 2 DSGL technology

There is no requirement for a permit to publish technology listed in Part 2 of the DSGL. This includes publishing recordings of oral supply that contains Part 2 ‘DSGL technology’. More detail on publishing ‘DSGL technology’ is available at our website.

IMPORTANT: Technology that is specially designed for military use (i.e. items listed in Part 1 of the DSGL such as chemical or biological toxic agents, riot control agents and military equipment for the detection of, and protection from, those agents) is treated differently. It is an offence to publish technology that is listed in Part 1 of the DSGL without approval.

4.2.1: Pre-publication supply

The exemption from a permit requirement for publishing ‘DSGL technology’ that is in Part 2 of the DSGL extends to ‘pre-publication’ supply activities as well.

EXAMPLE: Sending an early draft of an article for a journal for comment to a co-author or colleague who is in another country will not require a permit.
IMPORTANT: The exemption for pre-publication activities does not extend to Part 1 ‘DSGL technology’.

4.3: Supplies made to or by prescribed officials

The supply of ‘DSGL technology’ by, or to, members of the following groups in the course of their official duties does not require a permit:

  • Australian Defence Force;
  • Australian Public Service employee;
  • Australian Federal Police;
  • State or Territory police;
  • Australian Security Intelligence Organisation employee; or
  • Australian Secret Intelligence Service employee.
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