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The Hidden Legacy of Scott: Weapons of Mass Destruction and the UK Government Proposals to Control the Transfer of Technology by Intangible Means

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One tangible legacy of the Scott Report was to focus concern on the control of the transfer of sensitive technology by electronic means. In response to recommendations made in the Report the Government established a Scott Inquiry Follow Up Unit within the Department of Trade and Industry and published a Consultation Green Paper and White Paper. A particular concern has focused on the transfer of military and dual use technology which can be controlled (arguably) in a tangible form but not if transmitted by intangible means, i.e. fax, internet, e-mail, orally. Consideration has been given to the relationship between export controls for military and dual use goods and a parallel control regime for associated intangible technology. The Government proposal is to introduce a general power to control the transfer of technology by intangible means - limited 'for the time being' to weapons of mass destruction (nuclear, biological and chemical weapons and delivery systems). On the 10 November 1998 the Trade and Industry Committee held a second inquiry into various aspects of strategic export controls. Having considered representations made by the arms industry, universities, arms control groups and government departments the Committee, agreeing with an observation in the White Paper, states that 'grave doubts' existed concerning the practicality of controlling the transfer of technology by intangible means. This paper considers the relationship between tangible and intangible technology as it relates to weapons of mass destruction and offers a critique of the Government's proposals. The arguments are placed into a wider debate concerned with technology, modern warfare and the arms trade.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 August 1999

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