In an appearance on CNBC's Squawk Box Wednesday, Sen. Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) asserted his commitment to preventing U.S. companies setting up 5G networks from doing business with Hauwei.
Cotton discussed the ongoing debate over regulation and enforcement against U.S. tech companies. He opened his comments to CNBC host Rebecca Quick with a forceful condemnation of the Chinese telecommunications company Hauwei, on the basis of the threat it poses to national security.
"Huawei is essentially an arm of the Chinese Communist Party," Cotton said. "And they are operating in a market to set up the fifth-generation wireless network around the world, that is essentially akin to some of the critical weapons of war in the Cold War, like tanks and aircraft carriers."
The senator said the United States should prevent its companies from dealing with Hauwei in setting up a 5G network, and endorsed legislation he sponsored which would codify into law Hauwei's status on the president's denied entity list.
"It's the fifth generation wireless network that is a threat because information technology and fifth generation wireless networks are so essential not just to our economy but through the way the American military and our allies will wage war in the future," Cotton said.
Cotton was interrupted midway through the interview for CNBC to report on the news that the FTC had fined Facebook $5 billion for the company's privacy policies. Cotton then weighed in on the FTC's decision.
"Facebook has done a lot to let down its users over the years, and this FTC settlement reflects some of their shortcomings, especially when it comes to protecting users' privacy," Cotton said. "Second, I’ve been disappointed with a lot of the big tech companies in Silicon Valley. They haven't done more to work with the United States government—in particular the Department of Defense."
Cotton then spoke more generally about the regulation of American tech companies. The senator acknowledged that changes in technology naturally disrupt markets, but affirmed that the Department of Justice does have an interest in investigating whether tech companies violate anti-trust and monopolization laws through their influence.
"What we can't allow businesses to do is once they grow so large and develop monopoly power in one market to then leverage that and try to hurt competition in another market," Cotton said.
"Are you talking about Amazon in this case or are you talking about Apple?" co-anchor Andrew Sorkin asked.
Cotton replied succinctly: "Yes."