U.S. unveils procedures which shields telecom networks from national security threats

In a significant development, the United States has unveiled a procedure which is aimed at protecting its telecommunications networks as well as their supply chains, from national security threats.

In May 2019, U.S. President Donald Trump had issued an executive order declaring a national emergency which bars U.S. companies from using telecommunications equipment made by firms which pose national security risks.

In the same month, the Trump administration had added Huawei to its trade blacklist citing national security concerns, but had allowed some U.S. companies to continue doing business with the Chinese company.

As per a statement from the Commerce Department, Secretary Wilbur Ross has chosen to adopt a “case-by-case, fact-specific approach to determine which transactions must be prohibited, or which can be mitigated.”

The outlined approach, in a proposed rule, does not mention either Huawei or ZTE.

“These actions will safeguard the Information and Communications Technology Supply Chain,” said Ross in a statement. “These rules demonstrate our commitment to securing the digital economy, while also delivering on President Trump’s commitment to our digital infrastructure.”

Ross went on to add, Trump’s order, in consultation with other U.S. agencies, can bar firms linked to “a foreign adversary” from doing business including ones that “pose an undue risk of sabotage or subversion.”

According to a statement from the Commerce Department, the procedure is open to public comment before it becomes final; the determination of “foreign adversaries” is solely at Ross’s discretion.

The procedure also provides Ross the power to immediately prohibit or revise transactions that pose national security risks.

Last week, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission voted unanimously to designate Huawei and ZTE as national security risks.

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