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FedEx sues U.S. Commerce Department over Huawei phone



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FedEx has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government arguing that it should not be made to enforce export bans. The legal action occurred after a Huawei phone PCMag attempted to send from its UK office to its U.S. office was sent back to the UK due to President Trump’s blacklisting of the Chinese company, sparking a firestorm of controversy for FedEx.

The device was delivered from London to Indianapolis, but was returned to our office in London. When we received it back, the package had a message stating that there was a “U.S. government issue” with Huawei and the Chinese government and that the device could not be delivered to its destination in New York. The delivery apparently caused a panic attack for a FedEx Europe package handler, FedEx told PCMag.

The Chinese government had already launched an investigation into FedEx in May after China-bound parcels were mistakenly sent to the U.S.

In a statement, FedEx said that the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) “as currently constructed and implemented, place an unreasonable burden on FedEx to police the millions of shipments that transit our network every day.”

“FedEx is a transportation company, not a law enforcement agency,” the statement reads.

FedEx argues that American citizens have an expectation of privacy from their package transportation services. The delivery company goes on to say that the regulations as they currently stand “essentially deputize[s] FedEx to police the contents of the millions of packages it ships daily even though doing so is a virtually impossible task, logistically, economically, and in many cases, legally.”

In an interview with Fox News, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said that: “The regulation states that common carriers cannot knowingly ship items in contravention of the entity list or other export control authorities. It does not require a common carrier to be a policeman or to know what’s in every package.”

U.S. companies are currently forbidden from doing business with Huawei’s foreign units due to the government’s view that Huawei is a security risk. Nevertheless, this does not forbid private citizens from buying and importing the device into the country, nor should it prevent Huawei devices being sent from a foreign country to the United States.

As for how exactly PCMag’s package came to be sent back, there’s been a lot of confusion and finger-pointing from delivery entities. FedEx said the “mistake” that prevented PCMag’s package delivery was caused by an employee misunderstanding the blacklist. The package was then returned to Parcelforce, a unit of the UK’s Royal Mail.

Parcelforce’s customer service, however, said that the rejection was definitely a “customs issue,” a statement then contradicted again by Parcelforce’s managing director in a separate statement to PCMag. Stay tuned for further updates as this story continues to develop.

This article originally published at PCMag

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