FCC Proposes New Safeguards for Foreign Telecoms Amidst Security Concerns to Protect Americans




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The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is proposing new changes to policies regarding foreign telecoms to continue operating in the United States. If these alterations go into effect, for the first time ever the FCC would require existing foreign companies with current authorizations to periodically reapply to maintain their status. 

As stated by the FCC Fact Sheet issued March 30th, 2023, “the overarching objective of this proceeding is to adopt rule changes that will enable the Commission, in close collaboration with relevant Executive Branch agencies, to better protect telecommunications services and infrastructure in the United States in light of evolving national security, law enforcement, foreign policy, and trade policy risks.”

The proposal outlines the changes as follows: 

  • Adopt a one-time collection of foreign ownership information from international section 214 authorization holders.
  • Propose and seek comment on rules that would require carriers to renew, every 10 years, their international section 214 authority, or in the alternative, seek comment on adopting rules that would require all international section 214 authorization holders to periodically update information enabling the Commission to review the public interest and national security implications of those authorizations based on that updated information.
  • Propose and seek comment on other improvements to the Commission’s rules applicable to applications for international section 214 authority and modification, assignment, transfer of control, and renewal of international section 214 authority, including matters related to: (1) a five percent threshold for reportable ownership interests; (2) foreign-owned managed network service providers; (3) cross-border facilities information; (4) a facilities cybersecurity certification; (5) a facilities “covered list” certification; and (6) other changes to Parts 1 and 63 of the Commission’s rules.

Current FCC protocols lack any monitoring process, creating potential national security risks, only reverifying companies who request a modification to their services or discontinuation. The proposed changes are in response to concerns that arose from rejecting China Mobile’s USA applications in 2020, which spawned inquiries into additional foreign telecoms that could pose security risks. This new re-evaluation checkpoint is designed to prevent any potential breaches to the US government and consumers.

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