The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) added equipment and services from two China-based companies to its Covered List of communications equipment and services that have been deemed a threat to U.S. national security.
China Unicom and Pacific Network/ComNet were added to the list following a recommendation from security agencies, according to a statement released by the FCC on Sept. 20.
“Today, we take another critical step to protect our communications networks from foreign national security threats,” FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in the statement. “Earlier this year, the FCC revoked China Unicom America’s and PacNet/ComNet’s authorities to provide service in the United States because of the national security risks they posed to communications in the United States.
“Now, working with our national security partners, we are taking additional action to close the door to these companies by adding them to the FCC’s Covered List. This action demonstrates our whole-of-government effort to protect network security and privacy.”
PacNet/ComNet was previously barred from providing telecommunications services in the United States after it failed to address FCC concerns about the role that the Chinese regime could play in its internal affairs.
As subsidiaries of a Chinese state-owned entity, the two companies were subject to “exploitation, influence, and control by the Chinese government,” the FCC found in March.
Given their relationship with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the two companies would have no choice but to obey the edicts of the regime, the FCC said.
The relationship between PacNet/ComNet and the regime could provide the CCP with opportunities “to access, monitor, store, and in some cases disrupt and/or misroute U.S. communications,” thereby facilitating CCP espionage and other harmful actions against the United States.
Likewise, the FCC ruled in January 2015 that China Unicom, the world’s third-largest mobile provider, had the capability to listen in on phone calls and track the locations of its users.
It has also been alleged that the company allowed the CCP to use its devices to spy on thousands of Americans through Caribbean-based networks as part of the regime’s espionage campaign against Americans.
The FCC previously flagged China Unicom’s state ownership and its compliance with Chinese cybersecurity laws as a security threat. The organization said the company could be used as an espionage tool by giving the CCP capabilities needed to “access, store, disrupt, and/or misroute U.S. communications.”