Bipartisan, bicameral legislation will block technology manufactured by companies that pose a threat to national security
Washington (October 19, 2021) - Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) today applauded the House of Representatives’ passage of their legislation, the Secure Equipment Act of 2021 (HR. 3919 / S. 1790), which was introduced in the House by Representatives Anna Eshoo (CA-18) and Steve Scalise (LA-01). This bipartisan, bicameral legislation directs the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to adopt rules clarifying that it will no longer review or issue new equipment licenses to companies – such as the People’s Republic of China state-backed firms Huawei and ZTE – on the agency’s “Covered Equipment or Services List” that pose a national security threat. The FCC is required to maintain this list under the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act of 2019, which laid out detailed criteria for determining what communications equipment or services pose an unacceptable risk to U.S. safety.
In 2020, the FCC adopted new rules to require that U.S. telecommunications carriers rip and replace equipment provided by “covered” companies. While that was an important step, those rules only apply to equipment purchased with federal funding. The very same equipment can still be used if purchased with private or non-federal government dollars. Senators Markey and Rubio introduced the Secure Equipment Act to close this loophole and further prevent identified security threats from having a presence in U.S. telecommunications networks. Subsequently, the FCC initiated a rulemaking that mirrors the lawmakers’ proposal, and the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee approved a modified version of the Secure Equipment Act that will ensure the agency takes timely action on this issue.
“In today’s increasingly connected world, we must animate our technology with our values,” said Senator Markey. “That’s why our 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. I’m proud to partner with Senator Rubio on this proposal and I thank the House of Representatives for advancing our bill. I now call on the full Senate to swiftly pass the Secure Equipment Act and send it to the President’s desk.”
"Chinese companies that have already been identified as national security threats should not be allowed to sell us compromised equipment and services,” said Senator Rubio. “Senator Markey and I commend the House for passing our Secure Equipment Act -- bipartisan legislation that would close that loophole and protect American telecommunications networks. Now, we call on the Senate to do the same and send it straight to the president's desk."