A member of the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) called for the agency to revoke interconnection licences held by Chinese operators, arguing new threats have emerged since they were awarded.

The comments came as commissioners unanimously voted to block China Mobile’s bid for such a licence on national security grounds.

Commissioner Brendan Carr (pictured, second from right) noted China Unicom and China Telecom already hold interconnection licences and argued the evidence used to deny their compatriot “calls those existing authorisations into question”.

“Security threats have evolved over the many years since those companies were granted interconnection rights in the early 2000s…The reasoning behind today’s decision applies with equal or greater force to those legacy authorisations.”

Threat assessment
The FCC cited concerns China Mobile is vulnerable to exploitation by Chinese officials in its decision to reject the application.

In a statement, Chairman Ajit Pai (pictured, centre) warned: “The Chinese government could use China Mobile to exploit our telephone network to increase intelligence collection against US government agencies and other sensitive targets that depend on this network. That is a flatly unacceptable risk.”

The interconnection request was originally submitted in 2011, but it took until July 2018 for progress to be made, albeit in the form of the US Department of Commerce (DoC) advising the FCC to deny the request on national security grounds.

In April, Pai also recommended a block.