FCC Cracks Down on Chinese Companies Posing National Security Threat
WASHINGTON — The Federal Communications Commission formally added Pacific Networks Corp. and its wholly owned subsidiary ComNet and China Unicom (Americas) Operations Limited to its list of companies whose telecom equipment and service pose a national security threat.
The commission along with national security agencies created the list that bars the U.S. government from granting licenses to or contracting with companies backed by the Chinese government and buying their products under the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act. As of Tuesday, 10 companies are on that list.
“Today we take another critical step to protect our communications networks from foreign national security threats,” said Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel in a statement.
The commission had previously revoked the companies’ authorization to provide service earlier this year for China Unicom Americas in January and Pacific Networks in March.
“Earlier this year the FCC revoked China Unicom America’s and PacNet/ComNet’s authorities to provide service in the United States because of the national security risks they posed to communications in the United States. Now, working with our national security partners, we are taking additional action to close the door to these companies by adding them to the FCC’s Covered List,” she said.
“This action demonstrates our whole-of-government effort to protect network security and privacy.”
This decision was made after multiple executive branch agencies — including the Department of Justice and the Department of Defense — said the companies pose “an unacceptable risk to the national security of the United States or the security and safety of United States persons,” according to recent filings with the commission.
This latest move by the commission came the same day the companies were in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals fighting the previous actions from the commission. The companies maintain they don’t pose national security concerns.
Judges Karen Lecraft Henderson, Gregory G. Katsas and Harry T. Edwards heard the arguments from the companies and the commission.
This isn’t the first time the covered list has been challenged in court.
Huawei was the first company added to the list in 2021. It appealed its ban, however, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the commission’s ban due to security issues.
“Assessing security risks to telecom networks falls in the FCC’s wheelhouse,” the judges wrote in a 60-page opinion. They rejected the company’s assertion the commission was some sort of “junior-varsity” agency on national security matters.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.