Trump Declares National Emergency to Protect U.S. Communications Against Foreign Firms
Thursday, May 16, 2019 | Comments

Declaring a national emergency to protect U.S. communications technology and networks, President Donald Trump signed an executive order that bars U.S. communications firms from acquiring technology from foreign companies.

The executive order prohibits transactions that involve information and communications technology or services designed, developed, manufactured or supplied by persons owned by, controlled by or subject to the jurisdiction or direction of a foreign adversary. The Department of Commerce said it will issue regulations within 150 days to establish procedures for reviewing such transactions.

Under the order, the director of national intelligence is required to produce an assessment on the risks to the U.S. government, critical infrastructure, and people from information and communications technology or services developed by a foreign adversary within 40 days. The secretary of homeland security must produce a written assessment evaluating vulnerabilities in hardware, software and services that threaten the national security of the United States within 80 days. This assessment will also evaluate to what extent the hardware, software or services are relied upon by service providers and critical infrastructure entities.

“Protecting America’s communications networks is vital to our national, economic and personal security,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. “I therefore applaud the president for issuing this executive order to safeguard the communications supply chain. Given the threats presented by certain foreign companies’ equipment and services, this is a significant step toward securing America’s networks.

“When it comes to our national security, we cannot afford to make risky choices and just hope for the best. We must have a clear-eyed view of the threats that we face and be prepared to do what is necessary to counter those threats.”

Separately, the Commerce Department announced it will add Huawei Technologies and its affiliates to its Entity List. The sale or transfer of American technology to a company or person on the Entity List requires a license issued by the department, and a license may be denied if the sale or transfer would harm U.S. national security or foreign policy interests. The listing will be effective when published in the Federal Register.

The action stems from information available to the department that provides a reasonable basis to conclude that Huawei is engaged in activities that are contrary to U.S. national security or foreign policy interest.

“This action by the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security, with the support of the President of the United States, places Huawei, a Chinese-owned company that is the largest telecommunications equipment producer in the world, on the Entity List,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “This will prevent American technology from being used by foreign owned entities in ways that potentially undermine U.S. national security or foreign policy interests. President Trump has directed the Commerce Department to be vigilant in its protection of national security activities. Since the beginning of the administration, the department has added 190 persons or organizations to the Entity List, as well as instituted five investigations of the effect of imports on national security under Section 232 of the Trade Act of 1962.”

“TIA applauds the president for issuing today’s executive order on communications equipment security,” said Cinnamon Rogers, Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) senior vice president of government affairs. “We fully support the federal government taking action against specific suppliers that are deemed to pose a national security risk to the United States. Today’s action will reassure both consumers and industries harnessing communications technology that the networks they rely upon are built with equipment from trusted suppliers.”

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