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Monday, June 14th, 2021

Spying concerns prompt Senate bill barring federal government’s use of Chinese telecom providers

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Amid concerns about potential espionage, the federal government would be prohibited from procuring telecommunications equipment or services from China-based Huawei Technologies Co. and ZTE Corp. under a bill introduced in the U.S. Senate on Wednesday.

In 2012, the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence investigated allegations that Huawei and ZTE had spied on U.S. officials using company devices — a claim the companies denied.

A report concluded that the committee “remains unsatisfied with the level of cooperation and candor provided by each company.” The report also recommended that the United States should “view with suspicion” Chinese telecommunications providers’ continued penetration of U.S. markets.

U.S. Sens. Tom Cotton (R-AK) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced the Defending U.S. Government Communications Act in light of continued concerns about vulnerabilities posed by the companies’ products.

“Chinese telecom companies, like Huawei, are directly linked to the Chinese government and communist party,” Rubio said. “For national security reasons, we cannot allow a foreign adversary to embed their technology in U.S. government systems or critical infrastructure.”

Cotton agreed that Huawei is “effectively an arm of the Chinese government.” He added that the company is “more than capable” of hacking U.S. officials’ devices and stealing information.

“There are plenty of other companies that can meet our technology needs, and we shouldn’t make it any easier for China to spy on us,” Cotton said.