FCC Formally Declares Huawei And ZTE National Security Threats
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has officially declared Chinese tech firms Huawei and ZTE national security risks, as part of its plans to remove the vendors’ equipment from US telecoms networks. The official statement released by the agency said “both companies have close ties to the Chinese Communist Party and China’s military apparatus. They are also both subject to a Chinese law that obligates them to cooperate with the country’s intelligence services”. Huawei has always maintained that it will never hand over customers’ data to the government.
With today’s orders, and based on the overwhelming weight of evidence, the bureau has designated Huawei and ZTE as national security risks to America’s communications networks – and to our 5G future.
“Both companies have close ties to the Chinese Communist Party and China’s military apparatus, and both companies are broadly subject to Chinese law obligating them to cooperate with the country’s intelligence services,”
“We cannot and will not allow the Chinese Communist Party to exploit network vulnerabilities and compromise our critical communications infrastructure,”
The FCC’s decision means that no carrier tapping the $8.5bn Universal Service Fund (USF), a government subsidy used mainly by smaller telcos often serving rural areas, can use the funds to purchase kit from the two Chinese firms.
Huawei and ZTE did not immediately respond to requests for comment. However, both companies have repeatedly denied that they are threats to US national security. The FCC’s move to block telecoms from using USF funds to purchase equipment from Huawei and ZTE could make it more difficult for smaller companies to provide affordable services.
Over the last few years, the federal government has called for Chinese-linked telecom companies like Huawei and ZTE to be banned from the US over concerns of espionage and national security. The Commerce Department placed Huawei on its Entity List in May 2019 and recently amended that ban to allow the company to help outline standards for 5G deployment.
Then in March of this year, Trump signed legislation barring US companies from using federal funds to purchase equipment from companies that have been deemed as national security threats. The law also established a $1 billion reimbursement program to help smaller providers with the cost of ripping out and replacing the prohibited equipment from Huawei and ZTE.
Other countries including Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and Taiwan have also effectively banned Huawei.