What just happened? The Federal Communication Commission has denied China Mobile’s bid to establish international service within the US. The company has been trying for eight years to get a foothold in the United States, but the FCC voted unanimously today against allowing the Chinese telecom into the country citing security concerns.
In its press release, the FCC stated that China Mobile’s application did not establish that the provision of international telecommunication services was in the public interest.
The Chinese government, which does not have the best reputation when it comes to privacy and security, owns China Mobile USA. Regulators and intelligence officials are concerned that the establishment of an international service controlled by China poses a national security and law enforcement risk that cannot be mitigated.
Delaware-based China Mobile USA first applied for permission with the FCC in 2011 under section 214 of the Communications Act. The application requested that the company be allowed to set up “international facilities-based and resale services between the United States and foreign destinations.”
In April, FCC Chair Ajit Pai issued a statement foreshadowing that China Mobile’s request would be denied.
“After reviewing the evidence in this proceeding, including the input provided by other federal agencies, 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,” said Pai. “Therefore, I do not believe that approving it would be in the public interest.”
After extensively scrutinizing the application, holding discussions with the telecom, and consulting US intelligence and other administration officials, the FCC denied the request. This is the first time executive branch agencies have denied a section 214 application due to concerns over national security.