A hot potato: The US / China tech clash is entering an even more heated phase, with the FCC acting as a hammer against Chinese companies making network and telecom devices. They're an unacceptable risk to national security, the FCC claims.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has decided to effectively ban the sale and importation of telecom products made by five Chinese tech companies. The "no sale" list includes Huawei, ZTE, Hytera Communications, Hikvision and Dahua, and according to FCC commissioners it would shield the US from the "unacceptable risks to national security" posed by the aforementioned product makers.

The FCC's decision concerns the authorization of devices sold in the US. Without said authorization, a product can not be offered legally in the country, thus the new rule acts as an outright ban against networking devices made in China for the international market.

The new rule follows the Secure Equipment Act of 2021 signed by President Joe Biden, which forces the FCC to "no longer review or approve any authorization application for equipment that poses an unacceptable risk to national security." Furthermore, any company will now need a US-based agent to do business there.

According to FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel, the new rule will enforce what was previously seen as a flawed restriction process. While the FCC has previously flagged some equipment as posing a national security risk, the agency continued to "put its stamp of approval on this equipment through its equipment authorization process" for the last several years. It is a loophole that "does not make any sense," Rosenworcel said, as "there is little benefit in having these lists and these bans in place just to leave open other opportunities for this equipment to be present in our networks."

Under the new regime, a long list of devices including CCTV cameras, phones, Wi-Fi routers, smart home kits and more will lose any chance to be authorized for entering the US market. The rule should finally block efforts from bad actors to evade the FCC control, FCC commissioner Geoffrey Starks said. "If you want to be authorized to sell your equipment in the United States, we must be able to enforce our rules against you if you violate them. Full stop."

The ban against the five aforementioned Chinese companies is just the lastest effort made by the FCC to limit Beijing's attempts to permeate US networks with its cyber-warfare threats. Huawei was already banned in the US. Some FCC commissioners would even go a step further and ban the TikTok network to protect US citizens' data.