In a move certain to send considerable shockwaves around the world, the United States government has decided to ban the importation of communications devices and equipment manufactured by Chinese firms Huawei and ZTE and also to limit the use of certain surveillance systems hailing from the Asian power, as CBS News reports.
The change comes as a result of a determination by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that the presence of the Chinese products in the country poses an “unacceptable risk” to America’s national security.
Unanimous vote bans imports
As CBS News noted, the decision of the five-member panel was unanimous in the adoption of a a series of new regulations designed to halt imports and sales of host of technology goods thought to present a danger to the security of American infrastructure.
In a statement publicizing the outcome, panel chair Jessica Rosenworcel explained, “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.”
“These new rules are an important part of our ongoing actions to protect the American people from national security threats involving telecommunications,” Rosenworcel said.
Fellow commissioner Brendan Carr added on Twitter, “Our unanimous decision represents the first time in FCC history that we have voted to prohibit the authorization of new equipment based on national security concerns.”
Outlining the broader scope of the commission’s decision, Carr also noted that “as a result of our order, no new Huawei or ZTE equipment can be approved. And no new Dahua, Hikvision, or Hytera gear can be approved unless they assure the FCC that their gear won’t be used for public safety, security of government facilities, and other national security purposes.”
The commission’s stance against suspect tech imports comes amid a push among some officials to also ban popular social media platform TikTok due to questions as to how the Chinese owners of the app may be using data gleaned from millions of American users, as ABC News reports.
In a recent interview with Axios, Carr opined that the Council on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS) needs to move forward and ban TikTok from operating stateside.
“I don’t believe there is a path forward for anything other than a ban,” Carr said, referencing concerns regarding the flow of American user data to China and the danger that a state actor could use the platform to exert influence over U.S. political processes.
Carr added that in his estimation, there isn’t “a world in which you could come up with sufficient protection on the data that you could have sufficient confidence that it’s not finding its way back into the hands of the [Chinese Communist Party].”
As an outgrowth of those concerns, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) have declared that they will introduce legislation that would ban TikTok in the U.S., but the ultimate fate of such efforts in the face of sophisticated lobbyists for the Chinese tech firm that owns the app is something that remains to be seen.