Export controls. Woo, yeah! The USA classed various encryption as a weapon for a while, and tried to prevent it from being “exported” This was relaxed 10-15 years ago, when they realised how absurd it all was. Now, you can buy microelectronics with encryption built in, for instance, and what i’m talking about here, 802.15.4 transceivers have AES encryption built in. It’s a required part of 802.15.4 support after all. However, the way the export controls were relaxed required lots of paperwork, and there’s still some restrictions in place. And the big electronics distributors like digikey and mouser have interesting approaches to following these rules.
Here’s a quick roundup of what I tried to buy today on digikey. Note that all of these parts include AES encryption, as they are all 802.15.4 devices. In some cases, these aren’t even made in the US, they’re made in europe, shipped to distributers in the US, then not allowed out again because of these awesome “export controls”
Note: I live in Iceland, which seems to have fallen into a paperwork crack at some time, most of europe can buy these devices, but not me :(
Microchip’s MRF24J40 modules
Mouser will sell the modules.
Farnell said they would sell the modules, then asked me to fill out export restrictions forms (from the UK, not the US!) and has since not replied. (This was about 6 months ago)
ST’s STM32W parts
Mouser wouldn’t sell me the STM32W-RFCKIT either
TI’s CC2531 parts
Digikey will sell me the TI CC2531 usb dongle, DK partno: 296-28921-ND
Digikey will also sell me CC2531 chips themselves
Freescale’s MC1322x parts
Digikey will not sell me the usb dongle, DK partno: 1322XUSB-ND
I didn’t try buying the parts themselves
So, awesome job there. I can still buy “restricted” encryption hardware, but only some of it, and only in certain shapes. Fucking ballsup. I’ve spoken to Digikey, (though not with such a list of contradictions) and they brushed me off with, “we just follow the export restrictions guidance from the DOJ” They might bend a bit more if I was ordering 10k units of course, and actually go and check the paperwork, but that’s no help for me today.