15 CFR Appendix Supplement_No_15_to_part_760 - Interpretation

Supplement No. 15 to Part 760 - Interpretation

Section 760.2 (c), (d), and (e) of this part prohibits United States persons from furnishing certain types of information with intent to comply with, further, or support an unsanctioned foreign boycott against a country friendly to the United States. The Department has been asked whether prohibited information may be transmitted - that is, passed to others by a United States person who has not directly or indirectly authored the information - without such transmission constituting a furnishing of information in violation of § 760.2 (c), (d), and (e) of this part. Throughout this interpretation, “transmission” is defined as the passing on by one person of information initially authored by another. The Department believes that there is no distinction in the EAR between transmitting (as defined above) and furnishing prohibited information under the EAR and that the transmission of prohibited information with the requisite boycott intent is a furnishing of information violative of the EAR. At the same time, however, the circumstances relating to the transmitting party's involvement will be carefully considered in determining whether that party intended to comply with, further, or support an unsanctioned foreign boycott.

The EAR does not deal specifically with the relationship between transmitting and furnishing. However, the restrictions in the EAR on responses to boycott-related conditions, both by direct and indirect actions and whether by primary parties or intermediaries, indicate that U.S. persons who simply transmit prohibited information are to be treated the same under the EAR as those who both author and furnish prohibited information. This has been the Department's position in enforcement actions it has brought.

The few references in the EAR to the transmission of information by third parties are consistent with this position. Two examples, both relating to the prohibition against the furnishing of information about U.S. persons' race, religion, sex, or national origin (§ 760.2(c) of this part), deal explicitly with transmitting information. These examples (§ 760.2(c) of this part, example (v), and § 760.3(f) of this part, example (vi)) show that, in certain cases, when furnishing certain information is permissible, either because it is not within a prohibition or is excepted from a prohibition, transmitting it is also permissible. These examples concern information that may be furnished by individuals about themselves or their families. The examples show that employers may transmit to a boycotting country visa applications or forms containing information about an employee's race, religion, sex, or national origin if that employee is the source of the information and authorizes its transmission. In other words, within the limits of ministerial action set forth in these examples, employees' actions in transmitting information are protected by the exception available to the employee. The distinction between permissible and prohibited behavior rests not on the definitional distinction between furnishing and transmitting, but on the excepted nature of the information furnished by the employee. The information originating from the employee does not lose its excepted character because it is transmitted by the employer.

The Department's position regarding the furnishing and transmission of certificates of one's own blacklist status rests on a similar basis and does not support the contention that third parties may transmit prohibited information authored by another. Such self-certifications do not violate any prohibitions in the EAR (see Supplement Nos. 1(I)(B), 2, and 5(A)(2); § 760.2(f), example (xiv)). It is the Department's position that it is not prohibited for U.S. persons to transmit such self-certifications completed by others. Once again, because furnishing the self-certification is not prohibited, third parties who transmit the self-certifications offend no prohibition. On the other hand, if a third party authored information about another's blacklist status, the act of transmitting that information would be prohibited.

A third example in the EAR (§ 760.5, example (xiv) of this part), which also concerns a permissible transmission of boycott-related information, does not support the theory that one may transmit prohibited information authored by another. This example deals with the reporting requirements in § 760.5 of this part - not the prohibitions - and merely illustrates that a person who receives and transmits a self-certification has not received a reportable request.

It is also the Department's position that a U.S. person violates the prohibitions against furnishing information by transmitting prohibited information even if that person has received no reportable request in the transaction. For example, where documents accompanying a letter of credit contain prohibited information, a negotiating bank that transmits the documents, with the requisite boycott intent, to an issuing bank has not received a reportable request, but has furnished prohibited information.

While the Department does not regard the suggested distinction between transmitting and furnishing information as meaningful, the facts relating to the third party's involvement may be important in determining whether that party furnished information with the required intent to comply with, further, or support an unsanctioned foreign boycott. For example, if it is a standard business practice for one participant in a transaction to obtain and pass on, without examination, documents prepared by another party, it might be difficult to maintain that the first participant intended to comply with a boycott by passing on information contained in the unexamined documents. Resolution of such intent questions, however, depends upon an analysis of the individual facts and circumstances of the transaction and the Department will continue to engage in such analysis on a case-by-case basis.

This interpretation, like all others issued by the Department discussing applications of the antiboycott provisions of the EAR, should be read narrowly. Circumstances that differ in any material way from those discussed in this interpretation will be considered under the applicable provisions of the Regulations.