Smartphones, network switches and other telecommunications equipment from the Chinese firms ZTE and Huawei may soon be banned from use within the US government as both sides of Congress have come together to draft bills that would prohibit government workers from using their products.
Senate bill 2391 was recently introduced by Senators Tom Cotton and Marco Rubio which if passed, would prohibit all US government agencies from both purchasing and leasing any hardware or surfaces from both Chinese companies as well as from any of their subsidiaries or affiliates.
Senator Cotton highlighted the threat to national security that he believes Huawei and other Chinese companies pose to the US when introducing the bill, saying:
“Huawei is effectively an arm of the Chinese government, and it's more than capable of stealing information from US officials by hacking its devices. There are plenty of other companies that can meet our technology needs, and we shouldn't make it any easier for China to spy on us”
The introduction of the bill directly targeting Huawei and ZTE comes at a time when the US government is putting its IT suppliers under increased scrutiny. President Trump recently banned the Russian security company Kaspersky from providing its popular anti-virus software to US government agencies over concerns that it had close ties to the Kremlin. The president's own security team even went so far as to suggest the US build its own 5G network to prevent China from intercepting its calls.
Huawei and ZTE though have previously been investigated by the White House over espionage allegations though no clear evidence was found to prove that they were involved in Chinese spying.
Now that Senate bill 2391 has been introduced, it will have to go through the required committee and voting stages before being sent to President Trump to sign it into law.
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