US bans telecom giant over spying concerns

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US telecom regulator the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced on Thursday that it had voted unanimously to revoke authorization for China Unicom’s American unit to operate in the United States. The firm must now stop providing telecommunications services in the country within 60 days, the FCC said.

“Today we take another critical step to protect our communications networks from foreign national security threats,” FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said. “There has been mounting evidence – and with it, a growing concern – that Chinese state-owned carriers pose a real threat to the security of our telecommunications networks,” she added.

China Unicom said, as quoted by CNN, that it has complied with “relevant US laws and regulations” in the past two decades, and that the FCC has acted “without any justifiable grounds and without affording required due process.”

The telecom firm added that it would “act proactively to protect the rights and interests of the company and its customers.”

The US regulator’s move is the latest to target Chinese technology and telecoms firms over national security concerns.

In October, Washington barred China Telecom from operating in the country. Earlier in 2019, another Chinese state-owned telecommunications carrier, China Mobile, also had its US license revoked.

In recent years, Congress has instructed the FCC to embark on a program to “rip and replace” networking equipment that experts worry could allow foreign telecom firms to monitor sensitive US communications. The FCC has also sanctioned firms such as Huawei and ZTE, among others, so that their equipment cannot be used in US telecoms networks.

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