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FCC proposes new rule to counter Chinese tech threats

Huawei Canada. (Raysonho/Wikimedia Commons)
March 27, 2018

Chinese tech giant Huawei had plans to formally enter the U.S. market this year with some new products, including consumer smartphones. But the company has been hit with endless roadblocks from the likes of Congress and U.S. intelligence agencies who continue to fight a Chinese tech invasion.

In Early February, network providers Verizon and AT&T abandoned their proposed deals with Huawei after immense pressure from U.S. lawmakers. A few weeks later, the FBI formally warned the Senate Intelligence Committee that certain Chinese tech was a serious security risk.

Now, The Wall Street Journal has reported that the FCC is considering a new rule that would make it even more difficult for Huawei and other Chinese telecom-equipment makers to find their place in the U.S.

The change targets small and rural carriers that currently purchase gear from those companies.

The FCC proposal aims to prevent any mobile providers from receiving a valuable government subsidy if it is determined that those providers use Chinese equipment. Huawei in particular is currently one of the leading Chinese providers for much of the equipment.

The subsidies are part of the Universal Service Fund, a government program that incentivizes mobile companies to expand their service to remote and rural parts of the country where cell and data service is unreliable or non-existent.

The new FCC rule would more than likely influence those companies to terminate deals with Chinese telecom companies and seek partners elsewhere who could provide the necessary equipment to provide service.

The new rule has not yet been made official, with no formal date set for an unveiling or vote. Nevertheless, it should come as no surprise that the FCC is now taking a closer look at its abilities to combat potential security risks with Chinese tech.

During the Senate Intelligence Committee meeting last month, FBI Director Christopher Wray spoke for the NSA, CIA and FBI, when he said: “We’re deeply concerned about the risks of allowing any company or entity that is beholden to foreign governments that don’t share our values.”

Wray also said that certain Chinese tech could be used to “maliciously modify or steal information” and “to conduct undetected espionage.”

Over the last few months, Huawei has vehemently denied any potential risk to using its technology.

“Huawei is trusted by governments and customers in 170 countries worldwide and poses no greater cybersecurity risk than any ICT (information and communications technology) vendor, sharing as we do common global supply chains and production capabilities,” a spokesperson for Huawei had said in a statement.