US bans Huawei and ZTE telecoms equipment over spying concerns

US bans Huawei and ZTE telecoms equipment over spying concerns

The FCC ban marks an escalation of US policy towards Chinese telecom manufacturers that pose a ‘national security threat’.

Telecoms equipment from some Chinese companies – including Huawei and ZTE – has been banned in the US over national security concerns.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said on Friday (25 November) that it has banned the sale and import of “untrustworthy” equipment made by several Chinese manufacturers “to protect our nation’s communications networks”.

“The FCC is committed to protecting our national security by ensuring that untrustworthy communications equipment is not authorised for use within our borders, and we are continuing that work here,” said FCC chair Jessica Rosenworcel.

“These new rules are an important part of our ongoing actions to protect the American people from national security threats involving telecommunications.”

The move comes as a big blow to Chinese tech giants Huawei and ZTE, two of the world’s biggest suppliers of telecom equipment. The ban also extends to Hytera Communications, Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology and Dahua Technology.

It is the latest escalation in US policy towards Chinese telecom equipment makers over state spying and surveillance fears, which started during the Obama administration and accelerated during Donald Trump’s presidency.

The FCC designated Huawei and ZTE as national security threats in 2020, citing close ties to the Chinese Communist Party and China’s military apparatus. This prevented US businesses from using federal funding to purchase equipment from Huawei or ZTE, before restrictions were further tightened last year.

FCC commissioner Brendan Carr tweeted that the new ban marks an “unprecedented step to safeguard our networks and strengthen America’s national security”.

“Our unanimous decision represents the first time in FCC history that we have voted to prohibit the authorisation of new equipment based on national security concerns,” he wrote.

Meanwhile, a new UK policy has banned security cameras made by companies subject to China’s national intelligence law, which compels them to cooperate with national security services in the country.

Oliver Dowden, chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster, told UK lawmakers that the ban has been made “in light of the threat to the UK and the increasing capability and connectivity of these systems”.

“Departments have therefore been instructed to cease deployment of such equipment onto sensitive sites, where it is produced by companies subject to the national intelligence law of the People’s Republic of China,” he added in a written statement.

“Since security considerations are always paramount around these sites, we are taking action now to prevent any security risks materialising.”

10 things you need to know direct to your inbox every weekday. Sign up for the Daily Brief, Silicon Republic’s digest of essential sci-tech news.

Leave a Reply