Secure Equipment: The Whole of Government Effort To Restrict Dangerous Devices

What

The bipartisan, bicameral Secure Equipment Act of 2021 seeks to empower the FCC to restrict equipment authorizations to companies on the agency’s Covered List.

Why

President Biden’s enactment of the Secure Equipment Act marks a critical step to consolidate consumer protections with defense and trade restrictions, like the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and the U.S. Entity List.

Timeline

China Tech Threat’s Briefing Memo

Read our briefing paper on the Secure Equipment Act of 2021, its ability to protect Americans, the impact it will have on the Entity List, the FCC’s covered list and the urgency of the President’s signature on this bill.


Initial Comments: Protecting Against National Security Threats through the Equipment Authorization Program

In September 2021, China Tech Threat, with Blue Path Labs filed comments with the U.S. FCC on on proposed rules that would prohibit all future authorizations for communications equipment deemed to pose an “unacceptable risk to national security.” Key points include:

  • Most Americans don’t realize that they are at risk from intrusion by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) when they use products and services that are risky.

  • The FCC has a unique, important authority granted by Congress to regulate commercial equipment which uses radio frequencies.

  • The FCC has made a good start to propose restricting equipment from five Chinese military aligned companies, but there are many more entities operating in the US which pose an unacceptable national security risk.

  • All information technology from the PRC is vulnerable to that government’s intrusion. The only way to effectively mitigate the risk of PRC intrusion is to restrict the device.

Reply Comments: Protecting Against National Security Threats through the Equipment Authorization Program

As a follow up, in October 2021, China Tech Threat filed reply comments with the U.S. FCC on its secure equipment proceeding and responded to other petitioners’ comments. Key points include:

  • Selling electronic equipment in the US is a privilege, not a right.

  • The proposed regulation will open the playing field for lawful equipment providers.

  • The FCC must expand the Covered List to reflect reality.

  • IT companies should put users’ security first.

  • The proposed regulation reflects a clear, distinct mandate from Congress to the FCC to act.



Event: Unacceptable Risk: Expanding the FCC’s Covered List to Reflect Reality

China Tech Threat hosted an expert panel where participants roundly supported expanding the “Covered List.” Panelists included:

Coalition Letter: China Tech Threat and Bipartisan Signers Applaud The Passage of The Secure Equipment Act of 2021

In a letter to Senate and House leaders, China Tech Threat and more than 20 bipartisan organizations applauded both House and Senate leaders on the swift passage of this critical legislation. The letter notes:

  • The value of The Secure Equipment Act to address the “egregious loophole” of equipment authorization to entities on the Covered List that present a serious risk from intrusion by the PRC.

  • “There are many other PRC entities making products, services, and components which pose an unacceptable national security risk to Americans and which should be considered for Covered List addition” and calls on the FCC to look at companies including the Yangtze Memory Technologies Corp (YMTC), Lenovo, and TikTok.

Event Highlights

In the News

Congress And FCC In Step On Equipment Security, Want To Restrict Risky Products

Forbes by Roslyn Layton

Today the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Secure Equipment Act by a decisive vote of 420-4. This bipartisan legislation sponsored by House Republican Whip Steve Scalise and Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D, CA-18), now heads to Senate under the sponsorship of Markey (D-MA) and Rubio (R-FL). It requires the FCC to update its equipment authorization process to end the review and approval of equipment and devices made by companies deemed an unacceptable risk to our national security.

U.S. Ban on China Telecom Signals Broad Concern Over Beijing

Bloomberg by Todd Shields

FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr has called for steps to bar Shenzhen, China-based drone maker SZ DJI Technology Co. from the U.S. market, calling it “a Huawei on wings.” 

‘Huawei on Wings’: FCC member wants to block taxpayer dollars from buying Chinese drones

Washington Times by Ryan Lovelace

A member of the Federal Communications Commission wants to kick-start the process of thwarting the Biden administration from spending taxpayer dollars on Chinese drones from a company blacklisted by the Trump administration and warned about by President Biden’s Pentagon.