Rooney Cosponsors Bipartisan Bill to Build National 5G Strategy, Protect U.S. Telecommunications Infrastructure from National Security Threats

According to a 2018 NATO Report, Huawei’s Growing Role as a Supplier of 5G Could Be Exploited by China to Commit Espionage, Monitor Foreign Corporations and Governments, & Support Chinese Military Operations

Legislation Would Require the Administration to Develop a Strategy to Safeguard the Next Generation of Mobile Telecommunications from Foreign Influence

U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger introduced a bipartisan bill, cosponsored by Representative Francis Rooney, to protect next-generation telecommunications systems and mobile infrastructure in the United States.

According to a 2018 North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) report, Huawei’s growing influence as a leading supplier of 5G technology could be exploited by China to engage in espionage, monitor foreign corporations and governments, and support Chinese military operations. To combat the potential cyber threats associated with a Huawei 5G monopoly, the report recommends that non-Chinese companies invest in 5G research and development—and it calls on U.S. and European companies to reconsider the integration of Huawei technology into their 5G infrastructure.

The Secure 5G and Beyond Act would require the administration to develop an unclassified, national strategy to protect U.S. consumers and assist allies in maximizing the security of their 5G telecommunications systems. The strategy would also identify additional ways to spur research and development by U.S. companies in a way that maintains access for all Americans.

“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,” said Spanberger. “To protect our national security and maintain our economic strength, we must build a nationwide game plan 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.”

“The United States needs to be proactive in preventing any vulnerabilities that could be exploited by our adversaries. In our increasingly interconnected world, that means protecting our telecommunications and infrastructure, and those of our allies, from malign foreign interference,” said Rooney. “I am proud to cosponsor the Secure 5G and Beyond Act to ensure the safety, security, and freedom of the United States and to safeguard our technology infrastructure.”

Specifically, the bipartisan Secure 5G and Beyond Act would require the administration to build an interagency strategy to:

  • Secure 5th generation and future-generation telecommunications systems and infrastructure across the United States;
  • Assist U.S. allies and defense partners in maximizing the security of 5G systems and infrastructure in their countries; and
  • Protect the competitiveness of U.S. companies, the privacy of U.S. consumers, and the integrity of international standards-setting bodies against foreign political influence.

The Secure 5G and Beyond Act is companion legislation to a bill introduced in the U.S. Senate by U.S. Senators John Cornyn (R-TX), Mark Warner (D-VA), and Richard Burr (R-NC).

BACKGROUND

A 2018 report from the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defense Center of Excellence warned that integration of Huawei as a 5G provider could create long-term negative consequences.

Currently, the Chinese government’s Made in China 2025 plan calls 5G a “strategic emerging industry.” Already, Chinese tech companies own 36 percent of all 5G standard-essential patents, whereas U.S.-based companies only possess 14 percent of critical 5G patents. Earlier this year, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford called the potential risks of a Chinese-built 5G network “a critical national security issue” for the United States.

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