Bipartisan Bill Aims to Prevent China from Threatening Telecom Networks
WASHINGTON — Legislation intended to prevent China from threatening U.S. telecom networks was front and center Wednesday during a meeting of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology.
Introduced by House Republican Whip Steve Scalise, R-La. and Rep. Anna G. Eshoo, D-Calif., the Secure Equipment Act of 2021 would block the Federal Communications Commission from reviewing or issuing equipment licenses to companies backed by the Chinese Communist Party that have been identified as national security threats.
“Our bill, H.R. 3919, which is the Secure Equipment Act, stops the threat of China from infiltrating our networks by prohibiting the FCC from issuing equipment licenses to Chinese companies that are identified as national security threats — not all companies, but companies that have made that distinction that the FCC’s now identified as national security threats,” Scalise said during the hearing.
He noted that in 2019, the committee had worked in a bipartisan manner to address the threat posed by China by passing the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act.
That act instructed the FCC to publish a list of telecommunication equipment deemed to be a national security threat; prohibit the use of federal funds for purchasing equipment made by those companies; and authorize funding for U.S. carriers to rip and replace equipment that was made by those companies.
“Earlier this year, the FCC did what they were instructed to do, and in fact, published [a list of five companies posing a threat to national security],” Scalise said. “Every company on this list has ties to the Chinese Communist Party, with the Chinese government having ownership in many of them. Clearly, you can see why that was a concern that the FCC identified.
“While the 2019 law took a major step in getting compromised tech out of U.S. networks, U.S. carriers can still privately purchase equipment from these listed companies on the open market. So, these companies can still sell to American companies where that data can be controlled by the Chinese Communist Party,” he continued.
“Our bill seeks to further improve on the 2019 law. By prohibiting the FCC from issuing any equipment licenses to these companies, our bill adds an extra layer of security and puts a full stop to Chinese equipment from threatening our networks,” Scalise said.
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