The Bipartisan Secure Equipment Act of 2021 Cracks Down on Bad Actors Who Attempt to Sell Compromised Equipment to U.S.
WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden yesterday signed into law the Secure Equipment Act of 2021, a bipartisan bill cosponsored by U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan, which directs the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to close a loophole to better prevent telecommunications equipment manufactured and sold by companies that pose a national security threat from being deployed in the United States.
“As we work to strengthen our country’s readiness and resiliency to new threats of the 21st century, this bill takes real steps forward to close loopholes that have allowed bad actors, especially those from companies affiliated with China’s military and security services, to sell compromised equipment and services to Americans. It is good news for our country that the President signed this bipartisan bill into law,” said Senator Hassan.
In 2020, the FCC adopted new rules to require U.S. telecommunications carriers to rip and replace equipment provided by Huawei, ZTE, and other covered companies that pose a risk to U.S. national security. While that was an important step, those rules only apply to equipment purchased with federal funding. The very same equipment can still be used if purchased with private or non-federal government dollars. The bipartisan Secure Equipment Act closes this national security loophole by directing the FCC to clarify that it will no longer review, or approve, applications from companies on the Commission’s “Covered List” – regardless of whether federal funds were used.
Senator Hassan is working across the aisle to address the national security and economic threat posed by the Chinese government, and earlier this year she worked with her colleagues to pass bipartisan legislation to help the U.S. outcompete China. The bipartisan United States Innovation and Competition Act includes $1.5 billion for the USA Telecommunications Act, which Senator Hassan and colleagues previously passed into law, to provide funds to support research and development in Western-based alternatives to Chinese equipment providers Huawei and ZTE. Additionally, the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2021 included two bipartisan provisions that Senator Hassan worked on to address the rise of China, including an amendment she cosponsored to help spur American-based manufacturing of semiconductors in order to increase competitiveness and decrease reliance on China.