TEL AVIV – After three years of contentious review, the Israeli government has codified a new policy for cyber-related exports that aims to liberalize licensing and technology-transfer restrictions for all but defense and military end-users.
Personally endorsed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the new policy will be guided by the internationally accepted Wassenaar Arrangement for dual-use exports, but "nothing more than that," said Eviatar Matania, head of the government's National Cyber Directorate (NCD).
"Our instructions from the prime minister were to formulate a policy and implementation framework that are as lenient as possible, even while taking risks, that would support the continued prosperity of the cyber industry," Matania told Defense News.
"We believe we've found the right balance between how to fortify our industry by removing obstacles without selling what we don't need to sell to places where we don't need to sell," Matania said.
Under the policy, oversight and management of most dual-use cyber-related technologies, products and services are to be handled by a new authority to be established jointly by the NCD and the Ministry of Economy.
Only cyber-related exports to military users and international security agencies will remain under the purview of Israel's Defense Export Controls Agency in the Ministry of Defense.
"It's not like we took away from MoD things for which it must be responsible," Matania said. "The Ministry of Economy, together with the National Cyber Directorate, will have a new mechanism specifically crafted to the cyber domain."
He noted that in order to maximize certainty and minimize the regulatory burden on exporters, the government would soon publish definitions of specific areas that will be bound by export controls.
Similarly, the government would conduct periodic and thorough examinations of how the Wassenaar Arrangement is being implemented in other countries.
"Most of the time, there will be a pre-ruling in favor of the exporters; a presumption of approval. Most product solutions and technologies should not be licensed, aside from those that are part of the Wassenaar. But even within Wassenaar, there will be a pre-ruling, if, for example, you sell to the United States."
Matania noted that the decision was the outcome of three years of intensive inter-ministerial work involving MoD, the Ministry of Economy and the Foreign Ministry.
"It's a real balance between genuine national security concerns and the need for us to provide maximum certainty to the companies, entrepreneurs and investors that sustain Israel's position as a global leader in cyber," he added.
Opall-Rome is Israel bureau chief for Defense News. She has been covering U.S.-Israel strategic cooperation, Mideast security and missile defense since May 1988. She lives north of Tel Aviv. Visit her website at www.opall-rome.com.