The U.S. government said it is banning telecommunications and video surveillance equipment from several prominent Chinese brands in an effort to protect the nation’s communications network. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted unanimously on Friday to expand its ban on the sale and import of Chinese technology from firms that pose an “unacceptable risk to the national security” of the United States.
The decision implements the directive in the Secure Equipment Act of 2021 signed by President Biden in November that places additional restrictions on companies including Huawei and ZTE, surveillance camera makers Hikvision and Dahua, and two-way radio manufacturer Hytera.
These organizations will be prohibited from exporting new products into the U.S. unless they assure that the devices “won’t be used for public safety, security of government facilities, and other national security purposes,” the FCC said. Existing equipment from these companies, which are all listed under the FCC’s “Covered List,” are not affected, but the regulator said it is possible existing authorizations could be revoked in the future.
U.S. intelligence agencies believe the named Chinese firms, which are subject to China’s laws, could be forced to hand over information to Beijing’s security services, although the companies have denied this. U.S. lawmakers have also criticized how Beijing authorities widely use Chinese technology to commit human rights abuses within its borders. Hikvision’s cameras have been linked to the oppression of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in China’s Xinjiang province.
“The FCC is committed to protecting our national security by ensuring that untrustworthy communications equipment is not authorized for use within our borders, and we are continuing that work here,” FCC chair Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement. “These new rules are an important part of our ongoing actions to protect the American people from national security threats involving telecommunications.”
When reached by TechCrunch, Huawei declined to comment. Hikvision, Dahua, Hyerta and ZTE did not respond.
The latest regulatory move represents Washington’s continued crackdown on Chinese tech giants amid fears that the Chinese government could use them to spy on Americans.
In 2019, an executive order from then-President Donald Trump put Huawei on the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security Entity list, effectively banning the company from U.S. networks over its close relationship with the Chinese government. The following year, the FCC ordered all U.S. telcos to stop using equipment from Chinese manufacturers, including Huawei and ZTE, and began efforts to revoke China Telecom’s authorization to operate in the United States. The FCC banned more Chinese companies earlier this year, including China Unicom and Pacific Network.
The U.S. government has also signaled in recent weeks that it could take action against TikTok. FCC commissioner Brendan Carr said in an interview earlier this month that he believes U.S. lawmakers should also ban the app in the U.S. over the potential mishandling of personal and sensitive data by China-based parent company ByteDance.