Effective February 18, 2015, the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) published a series of amendments to its Sudanese Sanctions Regulations (SSR), 31 C.F.R. Part 538, permitting the export or reexport of certain services, software, and hardware incident to personal communications to or in Sudan.  These amendments were issued in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Commerce’s recent amendments to the Export Administration Regulations (EAR), easing its licensing policy and creating exceptions to license requirements for certain communications items to Sudan.

Previously, OFAC’s SSR provided a general license for the exportation of certain services and software incident to the exchange of personal communications (e.g., instant messaging, chat and email, social networking, sharing of photos and movies, web browsing, and blogging), provided that such services and software were publicly available at no cost to the user, from the United States or by U.S. persons.  Such software qualified for this authorization only if it was designated as EAR99, not subject to the EAR, of classified by BIS as mass market software under ECCN 5D992.

As a result of its recent amendments, OFAC has lifted its no-cost restriction, as the SSA now authorize the exportation of certain fee-based software and incidental services.  OFAC has also expanded its general license to permit the exportation, reexportation, or provision, directly or indirectly, to Sudan of certain additional personal communications software, hardware, and related services subject to the EAR.  In addition, OFAC has added a new general license authorizing the exportation, reexportation, or provision, directly or indirectly, by a U.S. person located outside the United States to Sudan of certain software and hardware not subject to the EAR.  For example, OFAC now authorizes a foreign branch of a U.S. company to export certain hardware or software that is not subject to the EAR from a foreign country to Sudan.  OFAC has also added a new general license permitting the importation by an individual into the United States of certain hardware and software previously exported by the individual to Sudan pursuant to other provisions in the SSR.

Finally, in order to ensure that the Sudanese sanctions do not deter companies from making available certain no-cost personal communications tools to persons in Sudan, the SSR now includes a new general license covering the exportation, reexportation, or provision to the government of Sudan of certain no-cost services and software that are widely publicly available.