| June 25, 2019 05:09 PM
Shipping giant FedEx has filed a lawsuit against the Department of Commerce over export rules it claims require the company to “police the contents” of customer deliveries and enforce the Trump administration’s trade blacklist.
The lawsuit follows Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei’s decision to reevaluate its use of Memphis, Tennessee-based FedEx after packages sent from Japan and bound for China were instead diverted to the U.S. FedEx said the packages were accidentally misrouted and apologized.
“Common carriers, as transporters for the public, cannot reasonably be expected to police the contents and ultimate destinations of the millions of daily shipments to ensure compliance” with export administration regulations, the company said in its lawsuit. Those rules, which do not offer a safe harbor provision, prohibit the international transfer of commodities, technology, information, and software for national security and foreign policy purposes.
FedEx argues the export controls violate the its Fifth Amendment right to due process, as “they unreasonably hold common carriers strictly liable for shipments that may violate the Export Administration Regulations without requiring evidence” that carriers knew what the packages contained.
“FedEx is a transportation company, not a law enforcement agency,” the company said in a statement. It’s asking the U.S. District Court in D.C. to block enforcement of the applicable provisions.
Though Huawei, the second largest smartphone brand, isn’t named in the lawsuit, the filing follows an executive order signed by President Trump in May that barred U.S. companies from using foreign telecommunications services that might pose a national security threat. The move took direct aim at Huawei and came amid growing concerns from U.S. officials that China could use such firms for espionage.