Friday, February 3, 2023

FCC bans telecom and video surveillance gear from Huawei, ZTE and other Chinese companies

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Last year, the Biden administration signed the Secure Equipment Act into law, which aimed to block the authorization of network licenses from several Chinese companies whose hardware has been deemed a national security threat. Today, the FCC announced that it’s officially implementing that ruling, which means some future equipment from Huawei, ZTE, Hytera, Hikvision and Dahua won’t be authorized for sale in the US. Existing equipment from those companies, which are all listed under the FCC’s “Covered List,” aren’t affected by the law.

“The FCC is committed to protecting our national security by ensuring that untrustworthy communications equipment is not authorized for use within our borders, and we are continuing that work here,” FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement. “These new rules are an important part of our ongoing actions to protect the American people from national security threats involving telecommunications.”

To be clear, the FCC isn’t completely blocking all hardware from these companies. And for some, like Hytera, Hikvision and Dahua, Rosenworcel writes that it’s specifically focusing on gear related to “the purpose of public safety, security of government facilities, physical surveillance of critical infrastructure, and other national security purposes.” If those companies can show that they’re not marketing that equipment for government use — for example, directing it consumers instead — they may be able get authorized by the FCC.

This latest move follows years of conflict between the US and companies closely tied to Chinese governments. That’s included placing several notable Chinese companies, including DJI, on the Department of Commerce’s “Entity List,” which prohibits US firms from selling equipment to them. The FCC is also calling for $5 billion to help US carriers with the massive task of replacing equipment from Huawei and ZTE.

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