With its two biggest strategic rivals also being major tech providers, the U.S. government is trying to cut its dependence on Russian and Chinese technology firms.
The latest move comes from the FCC. Its chairman, Ajit Pai, circulated a proposal for consideration at the Commission's April 17 meeting to ban certain companies from receiving government funds that subsidize low-income Americans’ access to phone and internet service.
“Hidden 'back doors' to our networks in routers, switches—and virtually any other type of telecommunications equipment—can provide an avenue for hostile governments to inject viruses, launch denial-of-service attacks, steal data, and more,” writes Pai.
Pai didn't name specific firms, but Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE will likely be at the top of the list that Pai wants the FCC to draw up.
The tech companies are already banned from use by the U.S. military, and this could provide a starting point for the FCC.
In December, Pai received a letter from 18 senators and representatives asking that he consider banning funding for purchasing products from ZTE and especially Huawei.
The subsidies come from the $8.5 billion/year Universal Service Fund, which powers several programs for people who can’t afford digital access.