Imports of specified telecommunications, information security, and other goods and services are being prohibited under new rules adopted Nov. 25 by the Federal Communications Commission. FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr said this action represents the first time in the agency’s history that it has voted to prohibit the authorization of communications and electronic equipment based on national security considerations.

The FCC is revising its regulations to prohibit authorization through the FCC’s certification process of equipment identified on the agency’s Covered List as posing an unacceptable risk to U.S. national security or the security or safety of U.S. persons. The rule also makes clear that such equipment cannot be authorized under the supplier’s declaration of conformity process or be imported or marketed under rules that allow exemption from an equipment authorization.

The FCC has taken a number of steps in recent years to “make our networks more secure,” said FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. These include prohibiting the use of public funds to purchase equipment or services on the Covered List, launching a program to remove insecure equipment that has already been installed in U.S. networks, and revoking operating authorities for Chinese state-owned carriers based on recommendations from national security agencies.

Despite these initiatives, Rosenworcel said, the FCC “has continued to put its stamp of approval on [covered] equipment through its equipment authorization process,” which can therefore “continue to be imported into the United States and sold to buyers who are not using federal funds.”

In response, the FCC is revising its regulations as follows.

- prohibits authorization of all telecommunications and video surveillance equipment produced by Huawei Technologies and ZTE Corporation (and their subsidiaries and affiliates)

- (1) prohibits authorization of telecom equipment and video surveillance equipment produced by Hytera Communications, Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology, and Dahua Technology (and their respective subsidiaries or affiliates) that is used for the purpose of public safety, security of government facilities, physical surveillance of critical infrastructure, and other national security purposes, (2) requires these three companies to document what safeguards they will put in place on marketing or sale for these purposes, and (3) freezes all their telecom and video surveillance equipment authorization applications until this work is done

- requires entities named on the Covered List as producing covered equipment to provide the FCC with information on other entities (such as their subsidiaries and affiliates) also identified on the Covered List but not specifically named

- requires all applicants for equipment certification to attest in their applications (in the form of a written and signed certification) that the particular equipment for which they seek certification has not been identified and placed on the Covered List

- closes a potential loophole by prohibiting any entity identified on the Covered List as producing covered equipment from obtaining equipment authorization through the supplier’s declaration of conformity procedure and requires such entities to instead use the FCC’s equipment certification procedures

- requires any entity identified on the Covered List as producing covered equipment to obtain an equipment certification

- requires each applicant for equipment certification to designate a U.S. agent for service of process (regardless of whether the applicant is domestic or foreign)

- authorizes the FCC to revoke prior authorizations of covered equipment and establishes streamlined procedures for doing so if the application included a false statement or representation relating to covered equipment

- eliminates equipment authorization for “white labeled” equipment; i.e., goods produced by one company that are marketed or branded under another company’s name

The FCC is also seeking comments on (1) the extent to which component parts should be considered in the prohibition on authorization of covered equipment, (2) the extent to which the FCC should revoke any previously authorized equipment that is covered equipment, and (3) whether to require all applicants seeking equipment certification to have a U.S.-based responsible party to help ensure compliance with the equipment authorization program rules.

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