Is a dating app a national security asset? Yes, in some cases. Foreign investment in U.S. businesses that collect and maintain U.S. citizens’ sensitive personal data is subject to national security reviews by CFIUS. From social networking to financial services to healthcare to consumer retail, companies across sectors collect, maintain, and have access to the sensitive personal data of U.S. citizens. The implications of the personal data-national security nexus are potentially wide-ranging for foreign investment in U.S. businesses.
The Haverly case is instructive as it clarifies OFAC’s position, with respect to Haverly and likely more broadly, as to the meaning of “debt” under Directive 2, which prohibits, by U.S. persons and within the United States, dealings in “new debt” issued by parties that are listed on the OFAC-maintained Sectoral Sanctions Identifications List (SSIL) or not so listed but are owned 50% or more by one or more sanctioned parties.
Listen to the program on Critical Minerals, National Security, & Supply Chains featuring MassPoint's Hdeel Abdelhady, Dr. Roderick Eggert. and Jared Wessel. The program was hosted by the American Bar Association and developed and co-sponsored by MassPoint PLLC.
The Trump Administration's newly released Africa Strategy is likely to bring greater anti-corruption enforcement, particularly against Chinese state-owned and private firms, as well as against African officials, and African and third country private parties. Extractives industries, particularly involving nonfuel minerals like cobalt, are likely to be of particular interest.
The Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security on Nov. 19 published an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) on the “Review of Controls for Certain Emerging Technologies.” The ANPRM implements the Export Control Reform Act of 2018 and raises diverse legal, regulatory, policy, and commercial issues that cut across sectors and industries. Commerce seeks to advance national security goals without harming the United States’ capacity to lead in science, technology, engineering, and manufacturing. This Regulatory Update provides analysis of the ANPRM, the relevant legal framework, and considerations for commentators.
Private companies that receive SWF and SOE investment, as well as the investors who arrange or co-invest with state-linked firms, should, when screening investments and assessing nonfinancial risk before and after the point of investment (and when additional investment is under consideration), the quality and risk inherent in the corporate structure and governance, as well as the business conduct controls of SWFs and SOEs, may affect them in the near- to longer term. In doing so, they should take a lesson from the PIF situation, post-Khashoggi.
At this point, one or few reported new incidents of cobalt (or other critical minerals) thefts/security risks are insufficient to make any reasonable predictions as to what action would be reasonable. However, news of such incidents should be closely monitored by suppliers/exporters, buyers/importers, finance intermediaries, and logistics services providers. Related storage, transit and insurance practices and terms should be noted for review if and when circumstances appear to warrant such action.
Thinking beyond the parameters of standard "international development" and industry playbooks, the lack of progress (or, in some cases, regression) in developing Afghanistan's mining sector should induce interested government, industry and nongovernmental actors to consider if and how laws, policies and technical assistance can be formulated, modified and implemented in ways that might enhance their effectiveness in practice, rather than just on paper. Afghanistan, as is well known, is a Muslim majority nation in which Islamic law (as locally interpreted and implemented formally and informally) plays a significant role. Islamic law (Shari'ah), provides rules and precedents applicable not only to family matters and ritual worship, but also to business transactions, public governance, market regulation, and limitations on government dominion over private property. in these areas, and others, Islamic law and historical practices provide rules and precedents applicable to the regulation, administration and conduct of mining and other extractives businesses. These laws and precedents are just as robust, and more so in some cases, as international and foreign laws and standards.
Notably, in the two pages of the NSS that are devoted to the National Security Strategy in the Africa context, none of Africa’s 54 nations are mentioned, but China is named twice. The NSS notes with concern China’s “expanding . . . economic military presence in Africa, growing from a small investor in the continent two decades ago into Africa’s largest trading partner today.” China’s methods and influence in Africa are described unflatteringly. “Some Chinese practices,” the NSS states bluntly, “undermine Africa’s long-term development by corrupting elites, dominating extractive industries, and locking countries into unsustainable and opaque debts and commitments.”
The dismantling of Obama-era laws and regulations, broader deregulation, and economic and political nationalism were and remain themes of the 2016 U.S. Election and presidential transition period. Donald Trump and members of the incoming Republican-controlled Congress have singled out for repeal or significant modification the Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”) and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, along with trade, immigration, foreign affairs, and environmental laws, regulations, and policies. If taken, these actions will not only effect legal changes in specific areas, they will create legal and policy voids that may be filled by U.S. states and localities, foreign governments and multilateral and non-governmental organizations, and the private sector. Five legal and business issues and dynamics to watch in 2017 are highlighted here.