The House of Representatives on October 20 passed the bipartisan Secure Equipment Act, which would prevent equipment manufactured by Chinese state-backed firms such as Huawei, ZTE, Hytera, Hikvision, and Dahua from being further utilized and marketed in the United States.

“I’ve fought for over a decade to address vulnerabilities in our telecommunications infrastructure that directly impact our national security. Equipment made by Huawei and ZTE, companies linked to the Chinese government, increase the vulnerabilities of our telecommunication systems and put the U.S. at risk,” said Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., when the bill passed. “I’m so pleased that the House passed bipartisan, bicameral legislation that Rep. Scalise and I co-authored to prohibit the FCC from issuing licenses for any telecommunications equipment made by Huawei or ZTE.”

The House bill, introduced in June by Reps. Eshoo and Steve Scalise, R-La., would prevent the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from reviewing or issuing new equipment licenses to companies on the FCC’s “Covered Equipment or Services List” that pose a national security threat. The legislation now heads to the Senate for consideration.

“The Secure Equipment Act, H.R. 3919, will prevent China from infiltrating America’s telecommunications networks and threatening the safety and national security of the American people when sending data across the internet,” said Rep. Scalise. “By prohibiting the FCC from issuing any equipment licenses to companies identified as a threat to our national security, this bill prevents compromised Chinese equipment from threatening America’s networks. The Secure Equipment Act sends a strong signal to the Chinese Communist Party that America is committed to securing our networks and protecting the privacy and safety of our citizens.”

The bill’s passage also garnered praise from FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr.

“Their bipartisan Secure Equipment Act would close a glaring loophole that Huawei and others are exploiting today to place their insecure gear into our networks,” Carr said. “I applaud their work to eliminate the threats posed by this equipment, and I am pleased to see such strong bipartisan support for this legislation through today’s vote. Now that this important legislation has passed the House, I urge swift consideration in the U.S. Senate.”

Sens. Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who are sponsoring a companion bill in the Senate, also praised the House action.

“In today’s increasingly connected world, we must animate our technology with our values,” said Sen. Markey. “That’s why our bipartisan legislation will keep compromised equipment out of U.S. telecommunications networks and ensure our technology is safe for consumers and secure for the United States.”

Sen. Rubio said, “Chinese companies that have already been identified as national security threats should not be allowed to sell us compromised equipment and services.”

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk's Assistant Copy & Production Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.