The Trump administration has launched a wide-ranging program to isolate and expunge Chinese companies from networks and digital services worldwide, calling the communist-led country a threat to national security.
United States secretary of state Mike Pompeo announed the Clean Networks program, which expands on the April 5G Clean Path initiative that targeted Chinese telco suppliers Huawei and ZTE specifically.
Clean Networks is a wide-ranging effort to keep Chinese influence out of the US telecommunications and technology sectors.
It comprises the Clean Carrier iniative that will ensure that Chinese carriers are not connected to US telecommunications networks and a Clean Cable effort seeks to protect submarine links from intelligence gathering “at hyper scale”, the US said.
No technical details were provided on how Clean Carrier and Clean Cable would be implemeneted.
Th US also wants Chinese apps removed from American app stores and smartphones, saying they “threaten our privacy, proliferate viruses, and spread propaganda and disinformation.”
Removing such apps would be done under the Clean Store and Clean Apps initiatives mooted by the US, and may have wide-ranging impacts on Google and Apple, both of which have deep connections with Chinese software developers and hardware makers.
US citizens’ data must not be stored and processed on Alibaba, Baidu and Tencent either, as per the Clean Cloud iniative.
The US claims to have the support of 30 countries for its Clean Networks program, and earlier this year threatened to ban social media app TikTok for sharing data with the Chinese government.
Currently, the two 5G providers in Australia that meet the US Clean Telco requirement with no Huawei or ZTE equipment in its network are Telstra and Optus.
Overseas carriers that count as Clean Telcos include Orange (France), Telefonica (Spain), Reliance Jio (India), SK Telecom and KT (both South Korea), O2 (UK) and NTT (Japan) and US telcos like Verizon, AT&T, and Rogers.
Clean Telco suppliers approved by the US are Nokia, Ericsson and Samsung.
“The United States calls on our allies and partners in government and industry around the world to join the growing tide to secure our data from the CCP’s surveillance state and other malign (sic) entities.
“Building a Clean fortress around our citizens’ data will ensure all of our nations’ security,” Pompeo said in his announcement.
By Juha Saarinen
Announcing the Expansion of the Clean Network to Safeguard America’s Assets
The Clean Network program is the Trump Administration’s comprehensive approach to guarding our citizens’ privacy and our companies’ most sensitive information from aggressive intrusions by malign actors, such as the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Today, I am announcing the launch of five new lines of effort to protect America’s critical telecommunications and technology infrastructure.
These programs are rooted in internationally accepted digital trust standards and built upon the 5G Clean Path initiative, announced on April 29, 2020, to secure data traveling on 5G networks into U.S. diplomatic facilities overseas and within the United States.
The five new lines of effort for the Clean Network are as follows:
- Clean Carrier: To ensure untrusted People’s Republic of China (PRC) carriers are not connected with U.S. telecommunications networks. Such companies pose a danger to U.S. national security and should not provide international telecommunications services to and from the United States.
- Clean Store: To remove untrusted applications from U.S. mobile app stores. PRC apps threaten our privacy, proliferate viruses, and spread propaganda and disinformation. American’s most sensitive personal and business information must be protected on their mobile phones from exploitation and theft for the CCP’s benefit.
- Clean Apps: To prevent untrusted PRC smartphone manufacturers from pre-installing –or otherwise making available for download – trusted apps on their apps store. Huawei, an arm of the PRC surveillance state, is trading on the innovations and reputations of leading U.S. and foreign companies. These companies should remove their apps from Huawei’s app store to ensure they are not partnering with a human rights abuser.
- Clean Cloud: To prevent U.S. citizens’ most sensitive personal information and our businesses’ most valuable intellectual property, including COVID-19 vaccine research, from being stored and processed on cloud-based systems accessible to our foreign adversaries through companies such as Alibaba, Baidu, and Tencent.
- Clean Cable: To ensure the undersea cables connecting our country to the global internet are not subverted for intelligence gathering by the PRC at hyper scale. We will also work with foreign partners to ensure that undersea cables around the world aren’t similarly subject to compromise.
Momentum for the Clean Network program is growing. More than thirty countries and territories are now Clean Countries, and many of the world’s biggest telecommunications companies are Clean Telcos. All have committed to exclusively using trusted vendors in their Clean Networks.
The United States calls on our allies and partners in government and industry around the world to join the growing tide to secure our data from the CCP’s surveillance state and other malign entities. Building a Clean fortress around our citizens’ data will ensure all of our nations’ security.