President Donald Trump has issued an executive order aimed at stopping foreign adversaries from taking advantage of technological vulnerabilities to threaten US communications systems.
The order, which declared a national emergency in response to the threat, does not name specific countries or companies but the administration has been trying to stop allied nations including the UK from using equipment from the Chinese tech company Huawei.
Meanwhile, the Department of Commerce, which has 150 days to come up with regulations, also put Huawei and its affiliates on a list that requires them to obtain US government approval to purchase American technology.
In August, Mr Trump signed a bill that barred the US government from using equipment from Huawei and China’s ZTE Corp.
The US, which is embroiled in an escalating trade war with China, has sounded warnings about Huawei’s efforts to expand into Europe.
The US worries that China could use Huawei to gain access to private, commercial or other information that could compromise Nato and allied intelligence operations.
Huawei is the world’s biggest supplier of network gear used by phone and internet companies but has been seen by the US as a front for spying by the Chinese military or security services – allegations denied by the company.
Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai applauded Mr Trump’s executive order, saying it would safeguard the US communications supply chain.
“Given the threats presented by certain foreign companies’ equipment and services, this is a significant step toward securing America’s networks,” he said.
Earlier this year, the Justice Department unsealed criminal charges against Huawei, a top company executive and several subsidiaries, alleging the company stole trade secrets, misled banks about its business and violated US sanctions.
The sweeping indictments accuse the company of using extreme efforts to steal trade secrets from American businesses, including trying to take a piece of a robot from a T-Mobile lab.
The executive charged is Huawei’s chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou, who was arrested in Canada in December. The US is seeking to extradite her.