What Is The Defense Export Controls Agency And Who Needs It?

What Is The Defense Export Controls Agency And Who Needs It?

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Recently we’ve been asked continuously by startup companies – What is the DECA (Defense Export Controls Agency)? Who needs to go there? When should we approach them? Many think that it’s just for the traditional defense industry, and startup companies with revolutionary ideas in the fields of cyber, defense, homeland security, or drones have nothing to do with it – “We’re only in the idea phase”, “we’re just looking for a foreign investor”, “we’re looking for a foreign strategic partner – let them deal with DECA” – these are just some of the answers entrepreneurs give when the matter is brought up.

So we approached one of the leading technological experts in the field of defense export control, lieutenant colonel (ret.) Eyal Bar-Or, who formerly worked for the Mafaat research and development agency, was for many years the technological adviser for DECA, and is today the CEO of the startup company SAFE-ZONE. Bar-Or taught for many years classes by DECA on the Israeli defense industry controls, and is now partnering with the Technion for a course on defense export. We asked him to shed some light on this subject for our startup-ing readers.

“Before we explain what DECA is, we need to understand under whose authority this body operated,” he explains. “DECA is the department for defense export controls in the defense ministry and is in fact the regulator in charge of executing the law for defense control export. This is a recently new law (less than a decade old) which defines what is considered a defense export, what is defense marketing, who is allowed to practice it, what licenses are required for defense export and marketing, who issues them, the definitions of those products under law, and more.”

“The definitions are very strict, but also wide enough to cover a wide range of factors and technologies, and that is why anyone who deals with development of components, systems, equipment – hardware of software – or even services including counseling and guidance, in the defense field or related fields – should look as early as the very start of the project into whether the law for defense export applies to them, and if so – what they should in order not to run into this department from the wrong end.”

“Just to be clear,” Bar-Or explains, “the fine for breaking the DECA law is a million NIS by an enforcement committee, which is also run by DECA. That makes it one of the only bodies, and perhaps the only one, in Israel which close a full regulation circle from the legislation proposal, through applying the law and giving licenses to enforcing it through the department’s committee. Personally, I highly recommend to do whatever is required by law and avoid such a scenario. We’ve even considered naming a course in the Technion “Don’t drop on the million” (creative rights are reserved to Dr. Oded Raviv – head of the department).

“Furthermore, I also recommend investors and VC funds to look into the companies on their portfolio, or the companies applying to enter it in order to avoid breaking the law.”

It’s important to mention that DECA is made up of people, in every rank, who want to assist defense export, and therefore are working constantly to develop procedures and methods meant to make this matter accessible to the public, and to provide the right licenses quickly.”

On the examination procedure itself we will elaborate in another article in which we will explain the different agreements and how an innovative software by SAFE ZONE can make life easier for everyone who need to reach the level of supervision they are aiming for.

In the meantime it’s important that every startup entrepreneur or investor ask themselves: Is the product I’m developing perhaps under DECA’s control? What have I done so far to look into it? Do I know, for example, that there is no law in Israel for civilian unmanned aerial vehicles? Do I know that the field of cyber, although the change in legislation has not yet been approved, is still partially under supervision by the Wassenaar Arrangement? Am I familiar with the unique clause for homeland defense in the Israeli law? Do I know the difference between a defense product to dual-use product? And by extension – do I know who should I go to for licenses?

We at iHLS, together with Eyal and his software development team, will be happy to assist you to examine and understand where you stand on this critical matter and what you should do to uphold the law. You can reach us with any question at: [email protected]