On 24 July, C4ISRNET reported expectations that White House officials are to announce a new interpretation of an export control agreement (MTCR), which the defence industry hopes will lead to increased sales of military UAV abroad. It explains that the MTCR was primarily introduced to regulate the sale of cruise missiles, but the interpretation also covers certain unmanned vehicles. Currently, the US interpretation of the MTCR leads to a blanket denial of most countries’ requests to buy “category-1” systems capable of carrying 500 kg payloads for more than 300 km. On 24 July, Breaking Defense confirmed the rules change. The change would open all so-called Category I drones currently made by the US defence industry for export, including the long-loitering surveillance and armed systems which have played a key role in Washington’s counterterrorism fights over the past 2 decades.
On 23 July, the UN released this report which says that ISIL remains resilient; and Al-Qaida has ingrained itself in local communities and conflicts. Both organisations and their global affiliates and supporters continue to generate violence around the world, whether through insurgency tactics, the direction and facilitation of terrorism or providing the inspiration for attacks. Both ISIL and Al-Qaida suffered leadership losses in recent months, and although both organisations have proved adept at surviving such transitions, the deaths provide an opportunity for Governments and other groups to take advantage of power vacuums. Al-Qaida is further entrenching in regions beyond its historical stronghold in Afghanistan. The overall total value of frozen assets reported by member states was approximately $61,318,000. Member states reported the continued threat posed by improvised explosive devices (IED) – chiefly “home-made”. Member states also reported an increase in the use of imported commercial radio-controlled transmitters and passive infrared switches for IED with almost no modification in Iraq and Syria.
On 24 July, Clean Energy Wire reported that Customs investigators in Bavaria have revealed the smuggling of solar modules from China sold at dumping prices in Germany worth at least €33 million. The EU introduced tariffs on Chinese solar modules in 2013 to protect the EU industry.
On 23 July, an article from OCCRP was concerned with Namibia being rocked by the “Fishrot” scandal, in which officials stood accused of arranging for lucrative fishing rights to be granted to the Icelandic fishing giant Samherji. It reports on the work of a local newspaper into how key figures involved in the scandal have invested in the country’s property market, and it has uncovered 27 properties in Namibia worth more than $2.1 million that were purchased by 5 principal figures in the scandal between 2012 and 2019, the period of the alleged corruption.
On 24 July, the EU Commission set out its new EU Security Union Strategy for the period 2020 to 2025. The strategy lays out the tools and measures to be developed over the next 5 years to ensure security in the physical and digital environment. Included are key measures such as an Agenda for tackling organised crime, including trafficking in human beings for next year: with a new EU Agenda on Drugs to strengthen efforts on drug demand and supply reduction, and reinforce cooperation with external partners; a new EU Action Plan against firearms trafficking; and the Commission will review the current framework for seizing criminal assets. There will also be a new EU Action Plan against migrant smuggling. The Agenda identifies 8 strategic priorities related to security, prevention and health, relating to drugs including –
- Disrupting and dismantling major high-risk drug-related organised crime groups operating in EU Member States and addressing links with other security threats;
- Increasing detection of illicit trafficking of drugs and drug precursors at EU points of entry and exit;
- Increasing effective monitoring of logistical and digital channels exploited for medium and small-volume drug distribution and increasing seizures of illicit substances smuggled through these channels in close cooperation with the private sector; and
- Dismantling drug production and processing, preventing the diversion and trafficking of drug precursors for illicit drug production, and eradicating illegal cultivation.
Re the new Action Plans on firearms,new threats and ways of operating that need to be addressed include:
- Smuggling of firearms and firearms parts into the EU through fast parcels;
- Smuggling by cars and coaches, known as ‘ant-trade’;
- Imports and intra-EU transfers of alarm and signal weapons that can be easily converted into lethal firearms;
- Remaining legislative discrepancies between Member States, with some weapons still being freely available (such as ‘Flobert’ weapons initially designed for ‘living-room’ shooting); and
- Imports of semi-finished weapons components to be assembled at home and 3D-printing of firearms (for polymer or even metallic parts).
On 23 July, TecDator reported that the Department of Commerce has just added another Chinese company into the corporate Entity List – OFILM – a a Shenzhen-based company that makes micro camera modules like OV lens, touch tech, display modules, fingerprint scanners, etc. It also supplies smart equipment for automotive products. Being placed on the Entity List involves tighter export licensing restrictions on transactions involved the company.
On 22 July, World Trademark Review says that a new report has revealed the extent of fraudulent and infringing advertisements on social media platforms targeting major brands, providing an action plan to clamp down on illicit activity. The study identifies 70 major international brands that have been the target of fraudulent and infringing advertisements on social media platforms, some of which receive up to a quarter of a million views before they are detected. The article says that the real value of the report is by shining a light on the tactics employed by fraudsters and what it deems to be the inherent systemic weaknesses on social media and e-commerce platforms that are exploited by criminals to sell counterfeit and illegal goods.
The report from by the Transnational Alliance to Combat Illicit Trade (TRACIT) is available at –
The Report highlights dangers as including –
- Fraudulent adverts give innocent consumers a false impression of authenticity. Counterfeit goods are generally of poor quality, will not last, are not guaranteed, and may be dangerous;
- IP theft in the form of trademark counterfeiting and copyright piracy stifles economic growth and job creation by discouraging innovation, reducing incentives for companies to invest in R&D and inhibiting creative industries from realizing their full potential;
- Most fraudulent websites show a disregard for data privacy of any type, including customer data, security, and financial information. Since these websites rarely use any form of security, consumers are often also exposed to credit card fraud, identify theft, and other cybercrimes; and
- The fraudulent and infringing adverts discovered on Facebook often share similar characteristics and suggest that organized crime groups or organized illicit networks are operating these fraudulent ad campaigns.
On 21 July, an article from Mayer Brown said that on 17 July, the US Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry & Security published a Notice seeking public comments on potential changes to items controlled for crime control and detection reasons under the Export Administration Regulations and the related licensing requirements. It says that, among other possible changes, BIS may expand export licensing requirements for devices, software and technology related to facial recognition and biometric systems. The Notice has significant implications for businesses engaged in industries related to biometrics, as it involves emerging and advanced technologies having important commercial applications. Comments in response to the Notice are due by 15 September.