Newly enacted legislation will block technology manufactured by companies that pose a threat to national security
Washington (November 12, 2021) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Representative Anna Eshoo (CA-18), and Representative Steve Scalise (LA-01) released the following statements today after President Joseph R. Biden signed their Secure Equipment Act (HR. 3919 / S. 1790) into law. 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, alongside Representatives Eshoo and Scalise, 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. The measure signed into law yesterday builds on the FCC’s ongoing proceeding.
“In today’s increasingly connected world, we must animate our technology with our values,” said Senator Markey. “That’s why I was so proud to help lead this bipartisan effort, which will keep compromised equipment out of U.S. telecommunications networks and ensure our technology is safe for consumers and secure for the United States. With President Biden’s signature, we are taking strong action to protect our nation from global technological threats that can undermine our future prosperity. I look forward to now working with the President and every member of the FCC to implement this critical measure.”
“The Chinese Communist Party will stop at nothing to exploit our laws and undermine our national security,” said Senator Rubio. “This legislation fixes a dangerous loophole in our law, curtailing their efforts to worm their way into our telecommunications networks.”
“I've fought for over a decade to address vulnerabilities in our telecommunications infrastructure that directly impact our national security. Equipment made by Huawei and ZTE, companies linked to the Chinese Communist Party, increase the vulnerabilities of our telecommunication systems and put privacy and safety of Americans at risk. I thank President Biden for signing the Secure Equipment Act, our bipartisan, bicameral legislation into law. Now the FCC is prohibited from issuing licenses for any equipment made by companies that pose a threat to our national security,” said Rep. Eshoo.
“Today’s bill signing proves that Congress can still work together across the aisle to enact vital legislation to protect the privacy and security of American citizens. I was proud to work with Rep. Eshoo and Senators Rubio and Markey to get the Secure Equipment Act through the House and Senate to prevent Chinese companies identified as national security threats from gaining access to the private data of American families. With this bill being signed into law, we have sent a strong signal to the Chinese Communist Party that America is committed to protecting our telecommunications networks and the data security of our Nation,” said House Republican Whip Steve Scalise.
“The Secure Equipment Act of 2021 will improve our safety as a nation by ensuring that untrustworthy communications equipment is not authorized for use within our borders. Senators Markey and Rubio, and Representatives Eshoo and Scalise’s continued dedication to this issue mirrors our efforts to update the Federal Communications Commission's equipment authorization procedures,” said Jessica Rosenworcel, FCC Chairwoman. “I thank Senators Markey and Rubio and Representative Eshoo and Scalise for their leadership and for helping send a strong, bipartisan signal that the United States is serious about developing a robust market for secure 5G alternatives."
“Republican Whip Scalise, and Congresswoman Eshoo for their determination and leadership to secure America’s communications networks,” said FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr. “Their Secure Equipment Act is now the law of the land and will ensure that insecure equipment from Huawei, ZTE, and other untrustworthy entities can no longer be inserted into our communications networks. This gear poses an unacceptable risk to our national security. and I am pleased with the overwhelming support their legislation has received in Congress to close the Huawei Loophole, and for President Biden’s signature today enacting this important reform.”