I am a student recently admitted to the University of Cincinnati, and I noticed something very peculiar and frightening in section 3.11 of their technology code of conduct.

In light of clause 3.1, "When an Individual accesses university computing services and accepts any university issued computing accounts, they agree to comply with this and all other related policies," and pursuant to clause 3.11, "Exporting software, technical information, select research data, encryption software or technology, to a location outside of the United States in violation of international or regional export control laws, is illegal. The Export Controls Office must be consulted prior to export of any material that is in question," the policy definitely asserts with no wiggle-room that, by using the resources at the University of Cincinnati, I have to confirm all devices with encryption software with the Export Controls Office. There is no clause in section 3 which limits the applicability to the campus, so this policy should in theory apply to anywhere I am. The problem is that almost every electronic device in existence has complex encryption software. For example, any device able to access the internet has powerful decryption software in order to decrypt SSL-encrypted streams. Hence, this broad policy seems to demand that I have to check through the Export Controls Office with every personal electronic device in my suitcase before I leave the country.

I understand the well-meaning original intentions of this policy and I fully intend to comply with the entire policy, but I am struggling to find a way around this unintended side-effect of the policy. What can I do to not have to submit my personal electronics from home for inspection every time I leave the country?

I would imagine that, reading up on US privacy laws, the broadness of this policy makes the policy partially inapplicable because the policy is not above the law. Could the inapplicability of this policy extend so far as to void the policy (for my purposes, of course)?

Thank you everyone! You are amazing!

1 Answer 1


You're completely misreading the goals and purpose of the Export Controls Office - Overview. They regulate the

transfer of US regulated information and technology, commodities, and software in the interest of national security and economic growth.

Transfer and export are not the same as the use of technology that personal devices contain. The simplest thing to do is simply call the Export Controls Office, and they will explain the difference, and tell what you need to do and what is not required of you when traveling.

Some countries do prevent the use of some personal tech or Apps, i.e. Russia and Signal, the encrypted phone app; but that has nothing to do with UC.

  • Thank you so much for clearing up my confusion. I know it's absurd to ask everyone to submit for inspection of all personal electronics before they leave the country, but I wanted to make sure that I would not be breaking any applicable rules, which could be used against me. M̶a̶y̶b̶e̶,̶ Certainly, I'm just paranoid. Thank you!
    – Jack G
    Jan 31, 2020 at 2:42
  • Thanks, and see my edit; some personal tech and apps are regulated in some countries, but that has nothing to do with UC. Jan 31, 2020 at 2:52

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