Back in 2019, the Trump administration issued an executive order that amounted to a ban on American companies buying equipment from or working with the Chinese telecommunications company Huawei. The ban was later extended multiple times in 2020. Now, the Biden administration is pushing to ban equipment from Huawei as well as ZTE. But rather than an executive order, the plan is coming from the Federal Communication Commission (FCC).
According to Axios, the FCC “plans to ban all sales of new Huawei and ZTE telecommunications devices in the U.S. — as well as some sales of video surveillance equipment from three other Chinese firms.” The reason for this is national security, Axios said, citing “sources with direct knowledge of the private deliberations.”
The FCC had previously banned federal funds from being used to buy equipment from those companies.
In late 2021, President Joe Biden signed the Secure Equipment Act of 2021, which “requires the Federal Communications Commission to adopt rules clarifying that it will no longer review or approve any authorization application for equipment that poses an unacceptable risk to national security,” the White House said at the time. That bill required the FCC to take such action within the year.
Last month, the FCC added two other Chinese companies, China Unicom America and PacNet/ComNet, to a banned list.
“Today we take another critical step to protect our communications networks from foreign national security threats,” FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in a press release on September 20. “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.”
Also this week, telecommunications companies in the United Kingdom extended a deadline for Huawei to be removed from 5G phones in that country, CNBC reported. The office of Prime Minister Liz Truss sent legal notices to thirty-five companies in the United Kingdom.
“The ban on Huawei in 5G follows guidance from the world leading National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) that the security of the company’s products - such as equipment used at phone mast sites and telephone exchanges - can no longer be managed due to the impact of US sanctions on its supply chain,” the British government said. “The sanctions, imposed by the US Government in 2020, stop Huawei accessing US semiconductor technology on which it previously relied.” The British government also mandated “an immediate ban on the installation of new Huawei equipment in 5G networks.”
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.