FCC will no longer give stamp of approval to Huawei and Co.
If you’re in the US, you’re going to have an even harder time getting your hands on the Huawei P30 Pro now that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has tied up the so-called “Huawei loophole”.
Up until recently, the FCC could still approve Chinese gear, despite a ban on Chinese tech that goes back to the Trump era.
Now the regulator’s digging in its heels and refusing to even consider Chinese tech products, citing an unacceptable risk to national security.
No FCC Stamp, No Deal
Chinese companies affected include Huawei, ZTE, Hytera Communications, Hikvision, and Dahua. As it’s impossible to trade in tech in the US without FCC approval, the move puts into effect President Biden’s Secure Equipment Act.
According to the Act, the FCC can “no longer review or approve any … equipment that poses an unacceptable risk to national security.” The ban covers everything from CCTV components and base station equipment to phones, cameras, and Wi-Fi routers, as well as re-branded or ‘white label’ equipment.
One of the affected companies, Hikvision, responded that its video products “present no security threat” to the U.S. and added that the FCC’s decision “will do a great deal to make it more harmful and more expensive for US small businesses, local authorities, school districts, and individual consumers to protect themselves, their homes, businesses and property.”
A Long Time Coming
This is by no means the first attempt to forestall the “Chinese tech threat”. Back in 2019, Trump declared the influx of technology from “foreign adversaries” a national emergency, and hit the Chinese telecommunications company Huawei with back-breaking export controls.
In May 2019, the FCC banned another state-owned Chinese telecommunications company, China Mobile, and, in October of the same year, followed suit with China Telecom, after having allowed the company to operate in the US for nearly 20 years.
In 2020, the FCC barred U.S. firms from using government funds to purchase equipment from Huawei and ZTE Corp, and adopted rules requiring carriers with ZTE or Huawei equipment to “rip and replace” the lot.
The latest FCC announcement comes just days after the UK announced its own measures to reduce its reliance on Chinese-made surveillance equipment, insisting that all government departments using Hikvision and Dahua cameras to stop ordering more and to rip and replace any already in place.
National Security Threat or Economic Protectionism?
Washington alleges that Chinese products pose a national security threat as they could be used to spy on Americans. The U.S. Trade Representative estimates China steals almost $600 billion in intellectual property from the U.S. every year, with former National Security Agency Director Keith Alexander calling it “the greatest transfer of wealth in human history.”
Huawei and Co have repeatedly denied these allegations and stated their gear poses no more of a national security risk than any other technology brand. Previously, Beijing has pushed back against Washington’s restrictions, pointing to the “deliberate smear and suppression of Huawei and other Chinese companies by the United States.”
The US “has generalized the concept of national security, abused national power, imposed various restrictive measures on Chinese companies such as Huawei, and bully without providing any evidence,” Zhao Lijian, a spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry told reporters.
While the US, UK and EU all raise the moatbridge to Chinese tech imports, ordinary folks are left wondering if it’s all anti-Chinese hysteria or if Chinese technology companies are really spying on the West on behalf of the Chinese authorities. Whether Chinese products have more backdoors for surveillance than products from other nations is still under investigation.
Contain the Drain
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