The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will categorically ban devices over national security concerns for the first time in history. Per a new order, the FCC will prohibit the import and sale of devices produced by Huawei and ZTE, and restrict the use of several other Chinese-produced devices for government and critical infrastructure purposes. Huawei and ZTE are electronic device manufacturers based in China with reportedly strong ties to the Chinese Communist Party, leading to high-profile data privacy and security concerns. In an official statement, FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr stated that these devices may allow hackers to “exploit backdoors in our electronics systems to obtain sensitive information and exploit that access to endanger America’s interests.” Commissioner Carr has publicly stated that TikTok should also be banned in the U.S. due to similar national security concerns.
Under the Secure Equipment Act of 2021, the FCC can grant and deny equipment authorizations for electronic communication equipment to be used on federally-regulated frequency bands. This order, passed unanimously by the Commissioners, will also empower the FCC to revoke previously-granted authorizations. Additionally, the order may not be the last federal action against a Chinese-based company. Carr ended his statement by calling on the FCC to address “insecure applications” (including TikTok) that send sensitive data “back to Beijing.”