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China Unicom Americas Banned From Providing Services to US Federal Agencies

Operations ban

China Unicom Americas Banned From Providing Services to US Federal Agencies

The Federal Communications Commission has disallowed China Unicom Americas from providing telecommunications services across the U.S. due to data security concerns.

FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said during a committee meeting that it revoked China Unicom’s permit to operate pursuant to the organization’s Section 214 authority, which focuses on carriers providing international services. The same laws were cited in the FCC’s decision to ban Huawei, ZTE and other Chinese companies from providing communications services to federal agencies.

Rosenworcel said China Unicom Americas was ordered to stop domestic or international services. The company has 60 days to discontinue operations, Nextgov reported.

FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr said the decision to revoke the Chinese company’s permit is consistent with the actions the organization took against China Mobile in 2018 and China Telecom in 2020. He added that the FCC found that China Unicom’s operations pose a significant national security risk due to Chinese government ownership.

Geoffrey Starks, a commissioner within the FCC, is calling for an expansion of the organization’s authority. According to Starks, giving the FCC greater authority to oversee international providers’ operations would allow it to prevent potential data compromises, with the commissioner arguing that international companies can still offer data center services to American customers even after they lose their Section 214 authority.

Other Chinese companies that lost their Section 214 authorities are Pacific Networks Corp. and ComNet. Rosenworcel has asked the Department of Commerce, the Office of the National Intelligence, the Federal Acquisition Security Council, the Department of Justice and the FBI to suggest other entities that could be subject to permit revocation.

The FCC chairwoman said the organization plans to update its “covered entities” list by March. Companies included in the list will not be eligible for use by any service provider applying for financial support from the Universal Service Fund.

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Category: Cybersecurity

Tags: Brendan Carr China Unicom Americas cybersecurity data centers Federal Communications Commission Geoffrey Starks Jessica Rosenworcel Nextgov Section 214 Telecommunications Act