Chinese telecom Huawei released a response today to the Federal Communications Commission’s move to ban telecoms from using critical infrastructure funds on equipment and services from China.
In March, the FCC voted to open public comment on a proposed rule that, if approved, would ban telecommunications companies from accessing the Universal Service Fund to purchase equipment from Chinese-based telecom companies. “A critical element of our national security is the security of America’s communications networks,” the docket reads. “The FCC does not have the authority or capacity to solve this problem alone. But it does have a role to play in meeting this challenge.”
“The FCC does not have the authority”
The move came after months of congressional debate regarding whether Chinese companies like ZTE and Huawei had close working partnerships with the Chinese government. If true, lawmakers suggested that American user data could be shared with Chinese officials and pose a significant security risk to the United States.
In the response, Huawei adamantly opposed any authority the FCC may have in punishing companies like itself on the grounds of national security. “The reality is that [Huawei] is an independent, privately-owned business that is no more subject to the control of the Chinese Government than American companies are controlled by the US Government,” the company wrote in its remarks.
Huawei said that the proposed rule exceeds the FCC’s statutory authority, and that the Universal Service Fund does not encompass national security concerns.
In announcing the move months ago, Chairman Ajit Pai said, “The money in the Universal Service Fund comes from fees paid by the American people, and I believe that the FCC has the responsibility to ensure that this money is not spent on equipment or services that pose a threat to national security.”
Earlier this week, the Commerce Department announced that it was lifting the ban on ZTE after the company paid a $1 billion fine. That deferral only extends until August 1st, and the department hasn’t made any announcements on whether there are any plans to permanently lift the ban.
The FCC has yet to schedule a date to vote on the proposed rule, but at the earliest the vote could be held at the commission’s August Open Meeting.
You can read Huawei’s full comments here.