Oct 26, 2021 - Technology

FCC votes to halt China Telecom operations in U.S.

Photo of a large blue and red seal that says "Federal Communications Commission"

A meeting room in the Federal Communications Commission headquarters. Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Federal Communications Commission voted Tuesday to revoke authorization for China Telecom's U.S. subsidiary to operate in America, citing national security concerns.

Why it matters: The state-owned China Telecom is one of the largest telecommunications companies based in China. It has provided services in the U.S. for nearly 20 years but must now cease operations within 60 days.

What they're saying: The subsidiary China Telecom Americas "is subject to exploitation, influence, and control by the Chinese government and is highly likely to be forced to comply with Chinese government requests without sufficient legal procedures subject to independent judicial oversight," the FCC said in a release.

  • The Chinese government could use the subsidiary to "access, store, disrupt, and/or misroute U.S. communications, which in turn allow them to engage in espionage and other harmful activities."
  • China Telecom Americas' conduct with the FCC and other U.S. government agencies also demonstrated "a lack of candor, trustworthiness, and reliability," the commission added.
  • The FCC requested information from the company last year, but it said China Telecom Americas failed to rebut "serious concerns" raised by the executive branch about its presence in the U.S.
  • China Telecom Americas did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Worth noting: The move could set a playbook for the FCC to revoke authorization for other companies with ties to China's government, Politico reports.

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