FCC Chairman Ajit Pai proposes new rules that would discourage telecommunications and broadband companies from using a government subsidy program to buy telecommunications equipment and services from "any company posing a national security threat".
Pai did not specify this Which companies or countries would be banned under the proposal? FCC officials said in an interview with reporters that the proposal calls for an opinion on this issue.
In particular, the FCC seeks comments on rules prohibiting the use of money from the agency's Universal Service Fund to purchase devices or services from companies that could pose a risk to US communications networks or the communications supply chain. The USF is a subsidy program that lends money to low-income individuals as well as direct wireless, broadband, and landline phone companies to help
An FCC official said the rules would only focus on telecom equipment, not on smartphones offered by banned companies.
"Hidden" backdoors to our networks in routers, switches, and virtually any other type of telecommunications equipment can provide hostile governments with a way to inject viruses, launch denial-of-service attacks, steal data, and more, "he said Pai on Monday in a statement.
The FCC will hold a first vote on the proposal on April 1
Pai's letter came after republican senators Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Marco Rubio of Florida introduced legislation in February that embraced the Prevent US government from buying or leasing telecommunications equipment from Huawei or other Chinese phone and equipment manufacturers ZTE Companies in the US have come under scrutiny in recent years as many experts fear they will use their access to communications networks to spy on the US.
In 2012, the House Intelligence Committee issued a report accusing Huawei and ZTE of producing telecommunications equipment that posed a threat to national security and legislators discouraging US companies from purchasing the equipment. Sprint, for example, had previously considered hiring Huawei to supply equipment for its network, but decided not to cooperate with the company.
Following the publication of the report, the committee emphasized that the report did not refer to smartphones. Nevertheless, the increased attention has been on the mobile phone business of US companies. In January, AT & T announced its deal to sell Huawei's smartphones in the US for safety concerns. Verizon is also said to have canceled his own plans to sell Huawei phones.
Last week, Best Buy, the largest US electronics retailer, cut its ties with Huawei. The company plans to discontinue the sale of the Chinese company's smartphones as well as laptops and smartwatches.
Huawei and ZTE representatives could not be commented on Monday by the FCC.
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