Washington, DC – Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) spearheaded the advancement of his legislation to protect U.S. telecommunications systems from foreign interference. The Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act of 2019 instructs the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to develop and maintain a list of communications equipment and services that pose an unacceptable risk to national security and prohibits the use of funds made available by FCC programs to purchase, rent, lease, or otherwise obtain suspect equipment and services. The bill also establishes the Secure and Trusted Communications Reimbursement Program to assist communications providers with the costs of removing prohibited equipment and services from their networks and replacing prohibited equipment with more secure communications equipment and services.
Last year, the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission found that China has invested significant state capital and influence in efforts to insert state-owned enterprises in the U.S. telecommunications supply chain. Intelligence reports have found that China has the means, opportunity, and motive to use its telecommunications companies for malicious purposes.
“The increasingly globalized supply chain for telecommunications equipment presents new security challenges for the United States. Since some smaller telecommunications providers have in recent years purchased less expensive equipment from Chinese companies, we face a new challenge of protecting our telecommunications system,” Congressman Pallone said. “The existence of this equipment in American networks is a threat to the critical infrastructure components that we use every day. We simply cannot allow China, and other bad actors, to infiltrate our telecommunications systems, and that’s why we must help smaller carriers remove this suspect equipment from their networks.”