Today, FCC Commissioners Brendan Carr and Nathan Simington applauded Senate passage of the Secure Equipment Act of 2021. The bipartisan, bicameral legislation, introduced by Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Republican Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) and Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Ca.) in the House, would strengthen national security by requiring the FCC to update its equipment authorization process to protect against threats posed by entities on the Covered List. Last week, the House passed this legislation 420-4. Today, the Senate passed this legislation by unanimous consent, advancing it to the president’s desk.
“I applaud Sen. Rubio and Sen. Markey as well as Republican Whip Scalise and Congresswoman Eshoo for their leadership and work to secure America’s communications networks,” Carr said. “Their work in the Senate and House to secure passage of this legislation, which is now headed to the president’s desk for his signature, will help to ensure that insecure gear from companies like Huawei and ZTE can no longer be inserted into America’s communications networks. We have already determined that this gear poses an unacceptable risk to our national security, so closing what I have called the ‘Huawei loophole’ is an appropriate action for us to take. I commend the efforts by these members, who have consistently championed policies that strengthen our national security and protect America’s communications networks.”
Simington said that, once signed, the legislation would give the FCC crucial authority to protect American networks from untrustworthy equipment that can serve as footholds for China and other foreign powers to infiltrate U.S. telecommunications networks and threaten national security. However, he cautioned that the legislation does not complete the work of protecting U.S. digital sovereignty.
“In the current digital security landscape, inadvertent flaws in wireless edge devices are as much a threat as intentionally created backdoors,” Simington said. “The FCC must continue to engage with industry and other parts of government to identify and eliminate weaknesses that can be exploited by our adversaries.”