The United States considers banning Huawei's surveillance cameras in schools and public offices.


These are specific surveillance and telecommunications equipment from companies linked to the Beijing regime. The measure begins a review period before a final vote on the matter.

US regulators have proposed to ban the products of Huawei Technologies Co. and four other Chinese electronics companies, including surveillance cameras widely used by schools but linked to oppression in western China, increasing pressure on suppliers of electronics. Technology is supposed to be a security risk.

Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Co. and Dahua Technology Co., whose cameras can be found in schools and local government facilities in the United States, were the subject of an order approved by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Thursday. in a vote of 4-0. Also named in the order are telecommunications giant ZTE Corp. and two-way radio maker Hytera Communications Corp.

The order would prohibit the sale in the US of specific surveillance and telecommunications equipment from these companies. The measure begins a review period before a final vote on the matter.

"We are taking direct steps to exclude untrusted vendors and equipment from communications networks," said FCC Acting President Jessica Rosenworcel.

In the proposal, the FCC said it could also revoke its previous authorization for the companies' equipment, a move that could force schools and other American customers to replace the camera systems.

The FCC's move represents another step after "years of warnings about Huawei," said Derek Tijeras, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute whose focus includes US economic relations with Asia. A recent buyer of Chinese telecommunications equipment that has been waiting years of use and now needs to be replaced.

In its bill, the FCC did not say how quickly the affected equipment would have to be removed and asked for comment on the "appropriate and reasonable transition period."

This may include a transition period for non-compliant teams, according to the order.

The FCC, Congress, and the White House have lobbied to ensure that Huawei and ZTE equipment is not used on US networks, citing cyber-espionage risks that the companies deny. In 2018, Congress voted to prevent federal agencies from purchasing equipment from the five companies under pressure from the FCC. 

Last year, the agency added companies to its list of suppliers whose products are considered a threat to national security.

Democrat Rosenworcel said in a statement before the vote that the FCC should do everything in its power to address threats to national security.

The measure begins a period of analysis and possible review before a final vote. There is no set a date for it.

Congressional action

Huawei, which markets phones in the US, said in a statement that the FCC's proposed measures were "wrong and unnecessarily punitive."

Hikvision noted in an email that its designation as a threat is unsubstantiated and "strongly opposes" the FCC action. Dahua maintained that "it does not represent and has never represented any threat to the United States national security." He described the FCC's procedure as "unjustified."

Hytera said its products "pose no threat to the national security of any country" and called the FCC's approach inconsistent with the usual practice of the US government to assess and mitigate risk.

President Joe Biden has continued to pressure China after strained relations with that country under Donald Trump's predecessor. In recent weeks, Biden has urged allies to confront China over alleged human rights abuses, including the recently concluded Group of Seven summit in the UK.

Congress could also intervene. The FCC would be barred from reviewing or issuing new equipment licenses to companies on the agency's list of suspicious equipment or services, according to a bill announced June 15 by Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-California, and Rep. Steve Scalise, Republican of Lusiana.

The lawmakers said in a press release that the proposed legislation includes a layer of security that closes the door for Chinese players to have a presence on the US telecommunications network.