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Trump administration moves to revoke China Telecom’s US licenses on security grounds

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A legal filing claims China Telecom is in violation of federal and state cybersecurity and privacy laws, but evidence is redacted.

Highlighting the diminished opportunities for Chinese telecom and technology providers in the US, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced last week that the Trump Administration would seek to revoke and terminate the licenses of mobile operator China Telecom. China Telecom is authorized to provide communications, data, television and business services in the US as a facilities-based common carrier. It obtains spectrum licenses from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) under what is called international Section 214 authorizations.

The DOJ announcement said relevant executive branch agencies unanimously recommended that the FCC revoke the telco’s licenses because it is an arm of the Chinese government and therefore poses “substantial and unacceptable national security and law enforcement risks.” Those agencies collectively represent an ad hoc arrangement of the Departments of Justice, Defense, and Homeland Security, formerly known as Team Telecom, which was established to ensure that the FCC defers to the executive branch when it comes to, among other things, matters of foreign ownership of communications assets in the US.

The redacted legal filing containing the agencies’ recommendation was submitted to the FCC’s International Bureau Filing System (IBFS) by the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), which filed on the agencies’ behalf. NTIA’s filing was the first that followed a somewhat unexpected April 4 Executive Order, which formalized or codified for the first time the Team Telecom arrangement.

[This article appeared in CSO Online. To read the rest of the article please visit here.]

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