FedEx is lining up to take on the US government
PARCEL FLINGER FedEx has launched a lawsuit against the US government arguing that it isn’t its place to screen packages for products banned under export rules.
The suit was filed in the aftermath of an incident which saw a number of packages containing Huawei devices ‘mishandled’ by the company, with one unit actually refused for delivery.
FedEx has argued that its ‘common carrier rights’ have been breached by being forced to assume liability for handling packages covered by laws such as the recent White House Executive Order which effectively bans Huawei from the US.
In a message to the Department of Commerce, FedEx argued that “the increasing use of restrictions on exports and imports by the Commerce Department in various geopolitical and trade disputes creates just an impossible burden on FedEx and common carriers.”
In one specific incident, a UK tech journalist sent a Huawei handset to colleagues in the US via FedEx, only to have it returned due to “a government issue”. FedEx later admitted it had made an error by refusing.
Meanwhile, Bejing authorities also began investigating FedEx after two packages bound for China were diverted to the US.
In a statement, the company said: “FedEx is a transportation company, not a law enforcement agency,” whilst the lawsuit argues that the rules “essentially deputize 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,”.
A US government spokesman said: “We have not yet reviewed the complaint, but nevertheless look forward to defending Commerce’s role in protecting US national security,”.
FedEx has said that Huawei is just one significant example of a wider issue for carriers in the 21st century. It also demonstrates just how unclear the rules over Huawei’s US ban actually are, and they don’t seem to be getting much clearer. μ