PCB Manufacturer Found Guilty of ITAR Violations

Company owner illegally exported sensitive information to Taiwan

A Woodinville, Wash. company contracted by the U.S. Navy to manufacture high-tech components, and the company’s owner recently pleaded guilty to violating the Arms Export Control Act. The owner of Precision Image Corporation admitted to illegally sending restricted U.S. Navy technical information to a Taiwanese printed board (PCB) manufacturer that was subcontracted to make the printed boards. The information sent to the Taiwanese PCB manufacturer contained the technical specifications for the printed boards – information listed on the United States Munitions List (USML) and controlled by U.S. International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) and therefore prohibited from being transmitted outside the U.S. without a license from the State Department.

For the past two years, IPC has been promoting a better understanding of ITAR’s applicability to PCBs in order to protect national security.  Launched in July 2012, IPC’s Follow the Law, Protect the Board initiative sought to raise awareness and promote compliance with federal regulations on the export of printed boards designed for ITAR-controlled equipment.

In addition to helping clarify current regulations, IPC is lobbying for changes that would make future regulations clearer. Our hope is to have the State Department, as part of their current efforts to reform the U.S. export control system, avoid future confusion by adding printed boards to the United States Munitions List of items protected by ITAR.

The first of the export controls reform (ECR) rules published by the U.S. Department of State on Tuesday, April 16, specifically identifies the continued ITAR coverage of PCBs by establishing controls for “specially designed for defense articles in this category.” This is a significant win for IPC which has advocated for the specific enumeration of PCBs on the USML. In its January 2013 comments, 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.”

For more information about IPC’s export control efforts, visit IPC’s website or contact Fern Abrams, director of government relations and environmental policy at FernAbrams@ipc.org.

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