National Security

Trump Admin Moves to Revoke China’s Authority to Provide Telecom Service in U.S.

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The Trump administration on Thursday sought to "revoke and terminate" licenses that permit a Chinese company to provide telecommunication services to and from the United States.

The Department of Justice said in a release that it "identified substantial and unacceptable national security and law enforcement risks" associated with China Telecom, the U.S. subsidiary of China's state-owned telecommunications company. It recommended the Federal Communications Commission revoke licenses allowing the company to operate in the United States.

China's communications networks have received increased scrutiny under the Trump administration, which has been pressuring allies to cancel their partnerships with companies tied to the communist regime, including Huawei. The Trump administration said China uses the telecommunication corporations and other state-controlled entities to conduct spy operations aimed at infiltrating U.S. networks.

"Today, more than ever, the life of the nation and its people runs on our telecommunications networks," John C. Demers, assistant attorney general for national security, said in a statement. "The security of our government and professional communications, as well as of our most private data, depends on our use of trusted partners from nations that share our values and our aspirations for humanity. Today's action is but our next step in ensuring the integrity of America's telecommunications systems."

The effort to revoke authorities originally granted by the Federal Communications Commission comes in the wake of repeated efforts by China to conduct hacking operations in the United States.

This includes "increased knowledge of the PRC’s role in malicious cyber activity targeting the United States," according to the DOJ.

There are mounting "concerns that China Telecom is vulnerable to exploitation, influence, and control by the PRC government," the DOJ said.

Questions also have been raised about how China Telecom stores its U.S. records and who has access to them.

The Trump administration identified "inaccurate public representations by China Telecom concerning its cybersecurity practices, which raise questions about China Telecom’s compliance with federal and state cybersecurity and privacy laws," according to the DOJ.