U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet, Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), and Mark Warner (D-Va.) introduced the Network Security Trade Act (S. 3394), legislation to ensure U.S. communications infrastructure security is a clear negotiating objective of the country’s trade policy.
The Network Security Trade Act would amend the 2015 Trade Promotion Authority, which is in effect until July 1, 2021, to include a negotiating objective related to the security of communications networks. While the bill does not name specific state-owned companies, it would direct the executive branch to ensure that the equipment and technology that are used to create the global communications infrastructure are not compromised.
It would achieve that goal by addressing barriers to the security of communications networks and supply chains and unfair trade practices of state-owned or state-controlled communications equipment suppliers in new trade agreements. Confronting these issues, which this legislation requires, is critical as the United States begins formal trade talks with the United Kingdom and other allies, says a press release.
“There is a lot of promise with new and advanced technologies like 5G, but the United States can only deliver on those promises if we maintain the security of communications networks, both at home and abroad,” said Thune. “This legislation would ensure the security of equipment and technology that create the global communications infrastructure are front and center in our trade negotiations, because you can’t have free trade if the global digital infrastructure is compromised.”
“The U.S. must be a leader and work with our allies and trading partners to ensure we are addressing security vulnerabilities in the global communications supply chain,” said Stabenow. “Our bipartisan bill moves us one step closer to that goal.”
“As America prepares to transition to 5G, network security is more important than ever,” said Fischer. “It’s deeply troubling that many other countries plan on deploying 5G using untrustworthy Chinese equipment that could give Beijing leverage over communications networks. Our bipartisan legislation would ensure that communications network security remains a top priority in all of our trade negotiations for the sake of our national security.”
“This bill sends an important message to our allies and trading partners that our concerns with Huawei are not fleeting or superficial,” said Warner. “While we’ve seen multiple Administrations exhort foreign partners not to use Huawei, we’ve continually failed to see a long-term, sustained, multi-lateral strategy to safeguard the global telecommunications market and foster innovative, competitively priced alternatives. Our digital trade agenda must emphasize the need for secure communications networks, built on fair competition, and this legislation helps accomplish that.”