The FCC noted that these firms are forced to comply with Chinese regulations and could pose an unacceptable risk to national security

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has added international telecoms company Pacific Network Corp., its wholly-owned subsidiary ComNet (USA) and the operator China Unicom Americas to a list of firms that could represent a threat to national security.

“Today we take another critical step to protect our communications networks from foreign national security threats,” said FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. “Now, working with our national security partners, we are taking additional action to close the door to these companies by adding them to the FCC’s covered list.  This action demonstrates our whole-of-government effort to protect network security and privacy.”

This actions implement recommendations in letters filed by NTIA on behalf of executive branch interagency bodies, the FCC noted.

With respect to PacNet/ComNet, the FCC said that the executive branch entities found that the government of China’s majority ownership and control of PacNet and its subsidiary ComNet through parent company CITIC Group, combined with Chinese intelligence and cybersecurity laws, “raise concerns that PacNet/ComNet will be forced to comply with Chinese government requests for communications intercepts, without the ability to challenge such requests.”  The executive branch entities found that PacNet/ComNet’s interconnections to U.S. telecommunications networks and customers present opportunity for exploitation by the Chinese government for espionage and intelligence collection against the U.S.

The FCC also noted that the executive branch entities found that “China Unicom’s status as a wholly-owned subsidiary of a Chinese state-owned enterprise firmly places it under the exploitation, control, and influence of the Chinese government” and that China Unicom’s American operations “provide opportunity to facilitate Chinese cyber activities including economic espionage, disruption and misrouting of American communications traffic, and access to U.S. records and other sensitive data.”

The Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act requires the FCC to publish and maintain a list of communications equipment and services deemed to pose an unacceptable risk to national security.

Earlier this year, the FCC voted to revoke permission for China Unicom’s U.S. unit, Pacific Networks, and ComNet’s authorization to operate in the domestic market, citing national security concerns.

In March, the FCC had also added Russia’s AO Kaspersky Lab, China Telecom (Americas) and China Mobile International USA to the covered list.

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