FCC commissioner calls for investigation into Chinese telecoms operating in US networks

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On Thursday, Brendan Carr, a Republican commissioner at the Federal Communications Commission, called for United States national security agencies to investigate two Chinese telecommunications providers.

Carr called for the investigation at an FCC Open Meeting on Thursday, prior to voting on a measure that would block a separate Chinese company, China Mobile, from operating within the US.

“The evidence I’ve seen in this case calls those existing authorizations into question,” Carr said in a statement. “For instance, the decision today cites reports that China Telecom has been hijacking US traffic and redirecting it through China.”

 Carr also asked for the FCC to open a proceeding into the matter. Carr said: It’s time for the US to take additional action.

“Security threats have evolved over the many years since those companies were granted interconnection rights to US networks in the early 2000s. Much if not all of the reasoning behind today’s decision appears to apply with equal or greater force to those legacy authorizations. Let’s ensure that our decisions from decades past don’t inadvertently endanger American interests.”

Democratic commissioner Geoffrey Starks also voiced concern over authorizations given to these other Chinese telecommunications companies, but he didn’t go as far as to call for an investigation.

“Earlier commissioners granted [authority] to other carriers with similar ownership structure to that of China Mobile,” Starks said. “The executive branch underscores how the national security environment has changed since they were granted.”

No commissioner other than Carr has called for a similar investigation. The measure being voted on today to block China Mobile from US networks was approved in a 5-0 vote.

Last month, when the measure was announced, FCC chairman Ajit Pai said: “It is clear that China Mobile’s application to provide telecommunications services in our country raises substantial and serious national security and law enforcement risks.”