FCC Efforts to Address Threats from Adversarial Foreign Owners, Part 1 of 2

Dr. Roslyn Layton submitted comments to the Federal Communications Commission on a proposed federal rule; Executive Order 1391 empowers federal agencies to directly address long-neglected threats from adversarial foreign owners. This blog post provides except including background on the necessity of the rule, followed by 3 main points.

This blog post includes only the background and point #1. Points 2 and 3 will post soon.

In explaining the need for the FCC’s rule, Dr. Layton writes:

“The US faces an existential threat to its security from the Chinese government. This has been excessively documented but has been met with relatively limited policy response until recently. Sources for this information include some twenty years of reports from Congress’ bipartisan United States China Commission, multiple reports from Defense and Intelligence agencies (in the US and allied countries), and investigations, reports, and cases from the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security, Commerce, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and countless security experts.

In summary, the FCC should work with the Executive Branch agencies to restrict broadly Chinese-government owned equipment vendors from US communications networks. Huawei and ZTE are the tip of the iceberg of hundreds of Chinese government-owned and affiliated firms (with at least 10 percent government ownership) that supply products and services in US communications networks and which present significant security and privacy risks. Their applications to the FCC should be scrutinized, rejected, and revoked. For applications in which the FCC cannot determine the level of Chinese government ownership, they should be referred to Executive Branch agencies.”

Ultimately, Roslyn’s comment makes 3 main points:

Point #1: There are serious security issues with firms whose owners are adversarial governments: “From the perspective of US security, there is an issue when a firm whose owners and government are one in the same, or are fungible, as is the case of China. Unlike the US, China’s military is not under civilian control, a prerequisite of a liberal democracy, whereas the Chinese government is a fusion of the administrative state and the People’s Liberation Army into a single entity. China can direct its firms in a way that the US cannot, and China uses its ownership in firms to advance its interests.”

Check back soon for points 2 and 3.