FCC Proposes Ban on Equipment from Vendors Deemed National Security Threats
Thursday, June 17, 2021 | Comments

The FCC proposed rules that would prohibit all future authorizations for communications equipment deemed to pose an unacceptable risk to national security.

In recent years, the commission, Congress and the executive branch have taken multiple actions to guard against potential threats to the supply chain of equipment and services within the United States, including ensuring that public funds are not used to undermine or pose a threat to national security.

The notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) and notice of inquiry (NOI) adopted build on the commission’s ongoing efforts to protect the nation’s communications networks. In addition to proposing to prohibit authorization of equipment that poses an unacceptable risk to national security, the NPRM seeks comment on possible changes to the competitive bidding rules for auctions to protect national security.

Specifically, the NPRM seeks comment on a proposal to prohibit all future authorizations of communications equipment that has been determined to pose an unacceptable risk to U.S. national security, as identified on the covered listpublished by the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau (PSHSB). The proposal would prohibit the authorization of equipment through either the FCC’s certification or supplier’s declaration of conformity equipment authorization processes. The proposal also seeks comment on whether to revise rules concerning equipment currently exempted from the equipment authorization requirements to no longer permit this exemption for equipment on the covered list.

The covered list currently has five companies on it: Huawei Technologies, ZTE, Hytera Communications, Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology and Dahua Technology.

The commission also seeks comment on whether it should revoke prior authorizations for any equipment on the covered list and, if so, the procedures it should use to do so. Finally, with regard to the FCC’s competitive bidding rules, the commission seeks comment on whether to require applicants who wish to participate in FCC auctions to provide additional certifications relating to national security. The NOI seeks comment on other actions that could create incentives in the equipment authorization processes for improved trust through adoption of cybersecurity best practices in consumer devices.

The commission’s equipment authorization rules play a critical role in promoting efficient use of the radio spectrum and ensuring that devices comply with technical and other requirements before they can be marketed or imported in the United States. The equipment authorization and competitive bidding rules have been revised through the years to meet the challenges of an evolving ecosystem. The NPRM and NOI adopted focus on providing further protections to the nation’s communications equipment and supply chains and keeping untrusted vendors and equipment out of U.S. networks.

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