The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced Thursday that it will implement segments of the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act (Secure Networks Act) which was enacted in March, into its current supply chain rulemaking. This is an additional step taken by the FCC to protect the United States’ communications networks from security risks.
In November 2019, the FCC banned the use of the Universal Service Fund (USF) support “to purchase, obtain, or maintain any equipment or services from companies posing a national security threat to communications networks or the communications supply chain.” For example, telecommunications companies will not be able to purchase equipment or services from Huawei or ZTE, which the FCC designated as national security threats. The Declaratory Ruling announced on Tuesday determined that the FCC has already met one of its obligations under the Secure Networks Act by adopting this November 2019 ban, which fulfills its obligation to “prohibit the use of federal subsidies for covered communications equipment and services.”
“Maintaining the security and integrity of our communications infrastructure is of paramount importance,” FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly said. “Over the past year or so, it rightfully has been a heightened priority of the FCC, Administration, and Congress to protect our communications networks from external threats, such as incursions by the Chinese Communist government through the ‘companies’ they control.”
The FCC has sought public comment on the Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking relating to the Secure Networks Act, including proposals to: “(1) create and maintain the list of covered communications equipment and services required by the statute; (2) ban the use of federal subsidies, including USF funding, for any communications equipment or services placed on this list; (3) require all providers of advanced communications services to report on whether they use any covered communications equipment or services; and (4) prevent waste, fraud, and abuse in the reimbursement program that is required by the statute to remove and replace insecure equipment.”
According to the FCC, this move is part of the organization’s continuous efforts to secure the nation’s communications supply chain.