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US Lists Russian Firm Kaspersky Lab, China Telecom as 'National Threats'

© REUTERS / Albert GeaA man walks next to Russian Kaspersky stand during the GSMA's 2022 Mobile World Congress (MWC), in Barcelona, Spain, March 2, 2022.
A man walks next to Russian Kaspersky stand during the GSMA's 2022 Mobile World Congress (MWC), in Barcelona, Spain, March 2, 2022.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 26.03.2022
The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is required to publish and update a list of communications equipment and services that pose a danger to national security or to Americans. Last year, the FCC noted five Chinese enterprises as the first to be included on the "Covered List" of the US telecom regulator.
The FCC on Friday added Russia's AO Kaspersky Lab, China Telecom (Americas) Corp, and China Mobile International USA to its list of communications equipment and services deemed a threat to US national security.
Jessica Rosenworcel, FCC chair, said in the statement on the decision that in March 2021, "for the first time, the FCC published a list of communications equipment and services that pose an unacceptable risk to national security, and we have been working closely with our national security partners to review and update this list".

"Today’s action is the latest in the FCC's ongoing efforts, as part of the greater whole-of-government approach, to strengthen America's communications networks against national security threats", Rosenworcel said. The FCC said it will "continue to update the list as other communications equipment and services meet the criteria under the law".

The decision means that money from the FCC's $8 billion annual Universal Service Fund (USF) can no longer be used to buy or maintain items from any of the listed corporations, according to the designation. Funds from the USF are, in part, used to help low-income consumers access telecommunication services in rural and high-cost locations, as well as government facilities such as schools, libraries, and healthcare facilities.
FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr welcomed the move, saying that the agency "plays a critical role in securing our nation’s communications networks, and keeping our Covered List up to date is an important tool we have at our disposal to do just that".

"As we continue our work to secure America's communications networks, I am confident that we will have more entities to add to our Covered List", he added.

Moscow-based Kaspersky Labs has been under increasing pressure due to the crippling sanctions imposed by many nations across the globe, including in the West, on Russian entities because of the nation's ongoing special military operation in Ukraine.
US officials have long voiced concerns about Kaspersky, Russia's biggest information company. The company's flagship anti-virus programme was banned from federal networks in 2017. European cyber agencies have begun to follow suit, releasing similar cautionary statements and restrictions, according to reports.
The FCC voted 4-0 earlier this month to withdraw the authorisation for Chinese telecom Pacific Networks and its wholly-owned subsidiary, ComNet, to provide telecommunications services in the United States.
The FCC terminated China Telecom (Americas)'s authorisation in October 2021, claiming the company "is subject to exploitation, influence, and control by the Chinese government", and the firm reportedly failed to get the ruling overturned in court.
The agency went on to reject China Mobile's application to install telecommunications services in the United States in 2019, citing national security concerns.
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