The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) yesterday (6 April 2020) welcomed President Donald Trump’s Executive Order on foreign ownership in the communications sector, which establishes a new committee and new procedures to review telecoms licence applications involving foreign investment. The FCC will refer certain applications for concession awards/transfers to the committee for review. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced: ‘Now that this Executive Order has been issued, the FCC will move forward to conclude our own pending rulemaking on reform of the foreign ownership review process.’ Referencing last year’s FCC rejection of China Mobile’s international telephony licence application, Pai said that his Commission ‘will not hesitate to act to protect our networks from foreign threats. At the same time, we welcome beneficial investment in our networks and believe that this Executive Order will allow us to process such applications more quickly.’
The Order establishes the Committee for the Assessment of Foreign Participation in the United States Telecommunications Services Sector, the primary objective of which is to ‘assist the FCC in its public interest review of national security and law enforcement concerns that may be raised by foreign participation’ in the US telecoms sector. The functions of the Committee shall be:
(i) to review applications and licences for risks to national security and law enforcement interests posed by such applications or licences
(ii) to respond to any risks presented by applications or licences by recommending to the FCC, as appropriate, that it dismiss an application, deny an application, condition the grant of an application upon compliance with mitigation measures, modify a licence with a condition of compliance with mitigation measures, or revoke a licence.
The Committee is composed of the following members:
(i) the Secretary of Defence
(ii) the Attorney General (the Chair of the Committee)
(iii) the Secretary of Homeland Security
(iv) the head of any other executive department or agency, or any Assistant to the President, as the President determines appropriate.
The following officials shall be advisors to the Committee:
(i) the Secretary of State
(ii) the Secretary of the Treasury
(iii) the Secretary of Commerce
(iv) the Director of the Office of Management and Budget
(v) the United States Trade Representative
(vi) the Director of National Intelligence
(vii) the Administrator of General Services
(viii) the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
(ix) the Assistant to the President for Economic Policy
(x) the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy
(xi) the Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers
(xii) any other Assistant to the President, as the President determines appropriate.
For the full text of the Executive Order, see the link below.