UK government tightening restrictions on the export of quantum computers

H Hannan

UK government tightening restrictions on the export of quantum computers
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The UK government is tightening restrictions on the export of quantum computers due to concerns about their potential militarization by foreign powers. Starting this month, exporters will need a special license to sell high-performance quantum computers.

Quantum technology has been added to the “dual use” items list, as countries like China and Russia invest heavily in this field, fueling global competition. Quantum computers can potentially outperform conventional supercomputers in areas such as chemical development and breaking secure communications.

The UK’s national quantum computer strategy highlighted the importance of this technology for defence and security. The Department for Business and Trade has amended its export regulations to include quantum computers with more than 34 “qubits” – a measure of their sophistication.

Companies like Google and IBM have developed advanced quantum computers, while others aim to build even more powerful machines. However, there are concerns about their potential to crack encrypted communications.

The new restrictions cover semiconductors that function at extremely low temperatures and their cooling systems. These changes are part of a broader update to export rules agreed upon by Western allies.

Industry experts have voiced concerns about the impact of additional export controls on British companies and their ability to attract foreign investment. Legal experts point out that the UK’s leading position in these technologies has led to increased scrutiny and compliance burdens for businesses involved in their development and production.

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