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Rubio to FCC: Put More Teeth in Chinese Telecom Ban

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida)
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) (Image credit: Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons)

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has asked the Federal Communications Commission to audit Chinese telecommunications companies, saying they are trying to avoid U.S. sanctions over their ties to the Chinese Communist government and the threat that poses to U.S. network security.

In a letter to FCC chair Jessica Rosenworcel, Rubio said the Biden administration needed to better enforce its crackdown on suspect tech and "ensure that all recently indicted Chinese firms totally discontinue U.S. services within the required time period; confirm that all Chinese telecommunication companies on the FCC’s “Covered List” – including subsidiaries or reconstituted entities intended to evade U.S. regulations – remain fully blacklisted; and conduct audits or other formal reviews of additional Chinese telecommunications companies that may pose a risk to Americans."

Also: Huawei Says FCC Ban Could Be Unconstitutional

He cited a number of reasons for his concern, including that ZTE, one of the first Chinese telecoms to be dubbed a national security threat — Huawei was the other — incurred further penalties after not adhering to U.S. orders, and Huawei spun off a smartphone line to a different Chinese government-controlled company, adding that “thus far, the Biden administration has not responded to this blatant circumvention of U.S. export controls.”

He also pointed to newer additions to the suspect tech list, including China Telecom, that were already demonstrating an unwillingness to comply with U.S. sanctions.

Back in March, the FCC added AO Kaspersky Lab, China Telecom (Americas) Corp., and China Mobile International USA Inc. to its “covered list” of untrusted tech.

The Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act required the FCC to identify tech companies — and their subsidiaries and affiliates — whose products and/or services posed a national security threat. ■

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.