Major global shipping company FedEx is suing the US Department of Commerce over its requirement that transport firms screen packages to avoid exporting commodities prohibited on national security grounds.

FedEx argues this is legally unprecedented: “common carriers” are usually not liable for the contents of packages and communications they transport.

FedEx adds that determining whether each of the 14 million parcels it ships daily contains prohibited items—or items needing a license—is logistically unfeasible.

The lawsuit accuses the Commerce Department of unjustly “deputising FedEx” to conduct checks, which would violate customer privacy; most customers, FedEx alleges, come with “a previously sealed package.”

Regulations were updated following a federal government ban on US companies working with Chinese tech manufacturer Huawei.

The Commerce Department insists companies have enough oversight of their processing chains to insert stricter screening systems—and are responsible for what they transport.

Who should be responsible for monitoring packages across borders?