In the past few years, the FCC has made overtures against Huawei and ZTE, characterizing them as national security threats. Well, now it’s official: the commission has passed an order officially declaring the two Chinese tech giants as national security threats to the United States.
The agency framed the companies as agents of the Chinese government thanks to their close political ties, compulsion to covertly cooperate with espionage operations under law, vulnerabilities in their networking equipment that could allow data to be directed to Beijing, and their transgressions on U.S. trade sanctions against Iran and North Korea.
None of these issues have particularly pressing importance at the moment, but the declaration does come as a culmination of a federal process to exclude and purge products from Huawei and ZTE from the wireless grid, especially in rural regions. The U.S. is also pressuring other governments including the U.K.’s to do the same.
In November, the FCC issued an order to prevent domestic service providers from receiving its Universal Service Fund grants to purchase wares from Huawei and ZTE. The latest order essentially cements that prohibition.
Commissioner Geoffrey Starks, a Democrat, stated that he agreed with the order and is advocating for Congress to pass funding for carriers to replace their existing Chinese networking equipment.
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