Department of “Never mind!”

For national security reasons, Dell PC’s can’t be exported to several countries, including China.
Dell PC’s are made in China.

An old friend writes:

My Mother recently bought a new Dell PC. Its paperwork states that national security laws prohibit the export of either the PC or its OS to a list of proscribed countries, including China. Both the PC and the CD with the OS on it are labeled “made in China.”

Footnote Yes, it’s conceivable that this isn’t as stupid as it looks. Maybe the PC is assembled in China, and the CD that carries the OS is made in China, but the OS is actually written on to the CD here, and it’s the OS that’s sensitive. On the other hand, it’s also possible that this is precisely as stupid as it looks.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

8 thoughts on “Department of “Never mind!””

  1. Mass-produced CDs are made more like records than tapes, i.e. they're mechanically stamped rather than recorded to. So apparently it's as stupid as it looks.

  2. The paperwork is outdated. You may have heard of Levono, the company that currently makes IBM ThinkPads under license. Levono is partially owned by the Chinese Academy of Sciences (that is, the Chinese government). They assemble the laptop and preinstall the OS in China and ship the laptop directly to customers via UPS.

  3. The Chinese (and everybody else) have gazillions of pirated copies of the un-named OS (Windows) so this export restriction is just rubbish.

  4. On the other hand, it's also possible that this is precisely as stupid as it looks.
    It's Dell. Precision is what they do.

  5. You don't understand. By "forbidding" export of Windoze, the Chinese are fooled into pirating and running that OS, rather than, say, the freely available (and much more secure) Linux, giving the US government an easily exploited trojan horse into the chinese economy. I nominate Michael Dell and Bill Gates for the Medal of Freedom. It's brilliant.

  6. There's nothing stupid about Dell here. They are just being a typical cheap manufacturer, like most other American manufacturing.
    The stupidity is in the US export control system, which is still based on the geopolitics and the computer technology levels of the 1970s and early 1980s. Most cell phones and cameras today have more computing power than the computers we originally refused to export.

  7. It is as stupid as it looks. If you import controlled technology, you are prohibited from re-exporting it, even to the country of origin.

  8. Adding voice, not info: it's as stupid as it looks–but it is a legal stupidity, not Dell's stupidity.

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