The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) demanded the US subsidiaries of China Telecom and China Unicom prove they do not pose a threat to national security, as the regulator moved closer to revoking their authorisations to operate in the country.
Specifically, the FCC asked the companies to demonstrate they are not subject to the influence or control of the Chinese government, and explain why it is in the public interest they retain their licences. It made similar requests of international termination service provider Pacific Networks and its subsidiary ComNet, which it said are indirectly owned by the Chinese government.
The regulator also ordered China Telecom to respond to allegations by the US government that it provided inaccurate information about its cybersecurity and data storage practices, and that its operations pose “substantial and unacceptable national security and law enforcement risks”.
It gave the companies 30 days to respond.
Earlier this month, US President Donald Trump formed a special committee to assess telecoms licences and applications for potential national security threats, and report its findings to the FCC.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai (pictured) stated the agency’s move reflects “deep concern” shared by multiple government departments that the companies are vulnerable “to the exploitation, influence and control of the Chinese Communist Party”.
“We simply cannot take a risk and hope for the best when it comes to the security of our networks.”