It Is About Time the Federal Communications Commission Fights Back Against China
Key point: The whole U.S. government needs a better, coordinated response to China.
At the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) November 19 open meeting, a top agenda item will be ensuring “that Universal Service Fund [USF] support is not used to purchase equipment or services from companies posing a national security threat to the integrity of communications networks or the communications supply chain.” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is highlighting the threat posed by the presence of Chinese telecommunications technology in American networks, an important consideration as US companies seek investment to build out next-generation 5G wireless networks.
American consumers pay USF fees on their telecom bills to support the build-out of information services around the United States. In administering the USF system, the FCC has a responsibility to ensure that national security isn’t threatened by suspect equipment as part of efforts to increase access to communications services in remote areas.
The FCC is right to scrutinize low-cost Chinese network equipment that is subsidized by the Chinese government and developed using intellectual property of dubious origin. Congress is currently focused on national security concerns surrounding foreign mobile apps (e.g., TikTok) and internet platforms that sell US citizens’ data abroad. But the transfer of information and potential degradation of network operations that could occur if the US 5G network is built using suspect equipment is an issue that deserves congressional and executive branch attention.
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