Nov 11, 2021 - World

Biden signs bill to secure telecoms against national security threats

Photo of the Huawei logo hung up as a sign overlooking an exhibition room

The Huawei booth at the China International Fair for Trade in Services on Sept. 6 in Beijing. Photo: Lu Junming/Costfoto/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

President Biden signed into law Thursday a bill that requires the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to secure telecommunications systems against potential foreign threats to national security.

Why it matters: In recent years, lawmakers have increasingly voiced concerns about Chinese telecom giants' operations in the U.S., and possible surveillance by the Chinese government.

Details: Under the new law, the FCC is barred from considering authorization for products made by companies on its "covered list," which includes Huawei and ZTE.

  • The designation blocks U.S. companies from using FCC funds to purchase communications equipment and services that the U.S. government considers a national security threat.
  • The bill received near-unanimous support in Congress. It was sponsored by Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.), along with House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) and Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.).

What they're saying: "[O]ur bipartisan legislation will keep compromised equipment out of U.S. telecommunications networks and ensure our technology is safe for consumers and secure for the United States," Markey said in a statement after the measure passed the Senate in October.

  • The law will protect the U.S. from equipment that "pose an unacceptable risk to national security," the White House said in a statement Thursday.

Don't forget: Former President Trump repeatedly sanctioned Huawei and other major Chinese tech companies throughout his term.

Go deeper