On Friday, March 13, 2020, the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau (“PSHSB”) released a Public Notice (“Notice”) announcing that it is seeking comment on the applicability of the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act of 2019 (“Secure Networks Act”) to the designation proceedings involving Huawei Technologies Company (“Huawei”) and ZTE Corporation (“ZTE”) announced in the Commission’s November 2019 Protecting Against National Security Threats Order (“Order”) (PS Docket Nos. 19-351, 19-352).

The Commission initially designated Huawei and ZTE as covered companies posing a national security threat to the communications networks or supply chain in the Order, and directed the PSHSB to make a final designation on these entities. Both Huawei and ZTE have opposed the designations.

The PSHSB now seeks comment on the applicability of the Secure Networks Act to the ongoing designation process, and whether and how the Secure Networks Act should apply to the designations of Huawei and ZTE. The Secure Networks Act, which became law on March 12, 2020, directs the Commission to publish a list of covered communications equipment or services that meet two criteria:

  • (1) equipment or services “produced or provided by any entity” that “poses an unacceptable risk to the national security of the United States or the security and safety of United States persons”;
  • (2) equipment or services that are capable of (a) routing or redirecting user data traffic or permitting visibility into any user data or packets that such equipment or service transmits, (b) remotely disrupting the network of a provider of advanced communication services, or (c) otherwise posing an unacceptable risk to the national security of the United States or the security and safety of United States persons.

The Act also prohibits the use of federal subsidy funds to purchase, rent, lease, obtain, or maintain communications equipment or services covered in the list, and specifies that the equipment or services covered in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 (“2019 NDAA”), which includes both Huawei and ZTE equipment, satisfies the first criterion.

Comments are due March 27, 2020.

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