Date
15 December 2019
The US needs to safeguard the Information and communications technology supply chain against potential security threats from foreign adversaries, Wilbur Ross says. Photo: Reuters
The US needs to safeguard the Information and communications technology supply chain against potential security threats from foreign adversaries, Wilbur Ross says. Photo: Reuters

US draws up plan to shield telecom networks from foreign threats

The United States on Tuesday set out a procedure to protect its telecommunications networks and their supply chains from national security threats, saying it would consider whether to bar transactions on a case-by-case basis, Reuters reports.

The Commerce Department said Tuesday that Secretary Wilbur Ross had chosen to adopt a “case-by-case, fact-specific approach to determine which transactions must be prohibited, or which can be mitigated.”

“These actions will safeguard the Information and Communications Technology Supply Chain,” said Ross said 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.

The outlined approach, in a proposed rule, does not make any specific mention of Chinese telecom equipment suppliers Huawei or ZTE.

But the move comes after President Donald Trump issued an executive order in May declaring a national emergency and barring American. companies from using telecommunications equipment made by firms posing national security risks.

The order was widely seen as being aimed at Chinese firms such as Huawei and ZTE. 

Trump’s May order invoked the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, which gives the president authority to regulate commerce in response to a threat to the United States.

It directed the Commerce Department, working with other government agencies, to draw up an enforcement plan by October.

Trump’s order said Ross, in consultation with other US agencies, can bar transactions from firms connected to “a foreign adversary” that pose a national security risk, including those that “pose an undue risk of sabotage or subversion.”

The Commerce Department said the procedure unveiled Tuesday is open to public comment before it becomes final, but that the determination of “foreign adversaries” is solely at Ross’s discretion.

It also gives Ross the power to immediately prohibit or revise transactions that pose national security risks.

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