FCC expels China Telecom from the US

The Commission states it is safeguarding the nation’s telecommunications infrastructure from potential security threats

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has ordered China Telecom to stop providing domestic interstate and international communication services within the US, saying it is safeguarding the nation’s telecommunications infrastructure from potential security threats.

The order found that China Telecom, a US subsidiary of a Chinese state-owned enterprise, is subject to exploitation, influence, and control by the Chinese government and is highly likely to be forced to comply with Chinese government requests without sufficient legal procedures subject to independent judicial oversight. 

China Telecom has 60 days to comply with the order and cease its operations in the country.

The FCC found that the company’s ownership and control by the Chinese government raises significant national security and law enforcement concerns by providing opportunities for China Telecom, its parent entities, and the Chinese government, to access, store, disrupt, and/or misroute US communications.

It said this, in turn, allows it to engage in espionage and other harmful activities against the US.

It added that the company’s conduct and representations to the Commission and other government agencies demonstrated a lack of candour, trustworthiness, and reliability that erodes the baseline level of trust the FCC and other agencies require of telcos, given the critical nature of the provision of telecommunications service in the US.

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“Today, based on the totality of the extensive unclassified record alone, the Commission’s public interest analysis finds that the present and future public interest, convenience, and necessity is no longer served by China Telecom Americas’ retention of its section 214 authority,” stated the FCC.

IT Pro has contacted China Telecom for comment.

The decision to ban China Telecom was originally recommended by the Trump-era Justice department in April 2020, before an investigation was launched by the FCC the following December. At the same time, the FCC ordered certain telecom companies to remove Huawei equipment from their networks as part of this process, citing concerns of the companies’ links to the Chinese government.

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