In-Depth: Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA) introduced this bill to create a national 5G strategy and protect key telecommunications infrastructure in the U.S. and in allied nations from national security threats posed by China’s Huawei:
“The United States has long been responsible for the groundbreaking achievements of the digital age. However, the growing prominence of 5G telecommunications systems in China and abroad, particularly through Huawei, should concern all Americans. To protect our national security and maintain our economic strength, we must build a nationwide gameplan to strengthen our mobile networks and protect the privacy of American families. Today, I’m proud to lead the introduction of a bipartisan bill to require a smart strategy, because safeguarding Americans’ access to the next generation of telecommunications should never be a partisan issue. As we work to achieve faster internet speeds and wider connectivity, our legislation would make sure we have a plan to deliver innovative technology to U.S> consumers, compete with China, and prevent foreign influence in 5G networks.”
Original cosponsor Rep. Susan Brooks (R-IN) added:
“The next generation of mobile telecommunications, 5G, holds tremendous potential to revolutionize the way we communicate and work with one another. As the co-founder and co-chair of the 5G Caucus, I understand how important it is for our laws to support this kind of innovation. But with such innovation and technological advancements, the federal government must ensure our national security by protecting Hoosiers and Americans across the country from potential cyber threats. The Secure 5G and Beyond Act is a bipartisan bill working to protect our next-generation telecommunications systems in the United States from dangerous foreign actors while continuing to allow the internet to transform the way we live for the better.”
This bill passed the House Foreign Affairs Committee by unanimous consent and the House Energy & Commerce Committee on a voice vote. It has the support of 27 bipartisan cosponsors, including 16 Democrats and 11 Republicans.
A similar version of this bill which would also prohibit the nationalization of the 5G network, has been introduced in the Senate with the support of 10 bipartisan cosponsors, including six Republicans and four Democrats.
Of Note: Under the Trump administration, the U.S. has already been actively involved in lobbying foreign governments to secure their 5G networks against potential risks from Chinese government-backed communications equipment suppliers. As of November 2018, the U.S. had asked the Australian, Canadian, South Korean, German, Italian and Japanese governments to block Huawei hardware’s use in their 5G networks.
In response to the U.S. request, one major Italian carrier said it would be “a very tough call” to avoid Huawei equipment. Citing Huawei’s leadership position in the telecom industry, the Italian carrier suggested that it may not be possible to cooperate with the U.S. on its initiative to keep Huawei equipment out of U.S. allies’ 5G networks.
Summary by Eric Revell with contributions from Lorelei Yang(Photo Credit: iStock.com / alexsl)