A bill prohibiting the use of U.S. government subsidies to purchase communications equipment that has been deemed to pose a national security risk has passed the U.S. Senate and will go to the President for his signature.
The bill, H.R. 4998, the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act of 2019, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives in December 2019, is intended to protect American communications networks from threats presented by foreign suppliers, such as Huawei and ZTE.
“Telecommunications equipment from certain foreign adversaries poses a significant threat to our national security, economic prosperity, and the future of U.S. leadership in advanced wireless technology,” U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, (R-MS) chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, said in a prepared statement. “By establishing a ‘rip and replace’ program, this legislation will provide meaningful safeguards for our communications networks and more secure connections for Americans.”
The Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act of 2019 will prohibit the FCC from subsidizing the acquisition or maintenance of telecom equipment or services from “untrusted” suppliers. Telecom providers with fewer than two million customers will be reimbursed for removing equipment that poses a national security risk from their networks and replacing it with equipment from trusted suppliers.
An information sharing program will be established to find out which telecom providers, particularly small and rural operators, have potential security risks and vulnerabilities in their networks.