A bipartisan bill in the US House of Representatives would provide money for rural telecoms to replace equipment made by Chinese companies.
National security has become a growing concern were Chinese equipment is involved, with many fearing such equipment opens US networks up to Beijing’s spying efforts. Bills have already been passed to ban Huawei, ZTE, and other companies’ equipment from networks, but lawmakers want existing equipment purged as well.
According to Fox News, the “Rip and Replace Program” that was passed in 2020 is facing a $3.08 billion shortfall. As a result, a bipartisan group of House lawmakers want to use excess COVID-19 relief funds to help make up the difference.
“If communication flows through Huawei or ZTE equipment, it should be treated as if it is being downloaded back to a server in Beijing with a full access pass for the CCP regime,” Rep. Ashley Hinson said.
“Chinese technology is embedded in communications networks across the United States, giving the Chinese Communist Party backdoor access to Americans’ personal information and sensitive data,” she added.
“The Defend our Networks Act will ensure compromised Chinese telecom equipment is replaced with secure systems so that Americans, especially those in rural areas, have reliable, secure, and private connectivity,” she continued.
The bill’s co-author, Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, praised the bipartisan effort.
“This year, the Federal Communications Commission said they can only cover less than half of the costs to remove dangerous Chinese technology from American telecommunications networks. That is simply unacceptable,” she said.
“I am proud to co-lead the Defend Our Networks Act alongside a strong coalition of bipartisan partners. This bill would strengthen the FCC’s ability to safeguard our technology, ensuring that Americans can be confident, knowing that none of our telecommunications systems are vulnerable to attacks because they contain Chinese software,” she added.