What happened now? Fears by the US government of potential Chinese surveillance have grown rapidly over the past few years, and the Trump and Biden administrations have taken action to combat this perceived threat. Indeed, Biden’s FCC today officially banned China Telecom (a provider of cloud, Internet, and mobile services) from operating in the United States.
As the name suggests, China Telecom is a Chinese company and a state-owned company. The FCC conducted an investigation (with the assistance of the executive branch) of the company’s activities and found that despite its protests, China Telecom was “subject to exploitation, influence and control” by the Chinese government.
China’s affiliation with China Telecom creates what the FCC sees as a threat to national security and law enforcement, as the corporation’s continued presence in America could lead to access, storage, disruption, or mis-routing of messages in the United States. This, in turn, can lead to espionage and “other harmful acts” being committed against the United States.
The FCC does not believe that further measures to mitigate or restrict China Telecom’s operations will eliminate these threats. Thus, the organization “canceled and discontinued“The authority of the company to provide its telecommunications services within the US borders or to US citizens. China Telecom has 60 days to close its US-focused operations since the FCC’s order was published today.
The FCC will publish a “consumer guide” to help future China Telecom customers transition to a new telecommunications service provider. The document should currently be available in English, Simplified Chinese, and Traditional Chinese, but we could not find it on Commission website at the time of writing.