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Dell UK is dutifully doing its bit in the war against terrorism, as evidenced by the Export Compliance section of the company's online order form. Says Question 4: "Will the product(s) be used in connection with weapons of mass destruction, i.e. nuclear applications, missile technology, or chemical or biological weapons purposes?"

Check yes or no. It is not, obviously, clear what happens if you check yes; nor, given the current shoot from the hip draconian policies being implemented on both sides of the pond these days, are we calling for volunteers. But from the way Dell puts it, responsibility lies with the US government rather than the company itself: "Dell Computer Corporation is a US Corporation and is therefore subject to all US Export Laws and Regulations. In view of this, please answer the following 4 questions for US export compliance purposes."

Dell subs do indeed seems to be subject to those regulations. We note at the Department of Commerce's Bureau of Export Administration site that Dell Gmbh (German subsidiary) was fined in 1998 for breaching US anti-boycott legislation.

We tried to check to see if IBM UK's online sales operation had a similar section to Dell's, but if it does, Big Blue unsportingly puts it after the section where you have to get your credit card verified. The Dell US shop, as far as we can see, only asks if you're going to be giving the kit to foreigners, and doesn't mention weapons of mass destruction at all. Presumably this is something to do with NRA lobbying. ®

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