Statement Of Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel On The Security Of Telecommunications Networks

Today the Commission will consider a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking comment on a rule to prohibit the future use of Universal Service Funds to purchase equipment or services from providers identified as posing a national security risk. Congress has repeatedly expressed concern about the potential for supply chain vulnerability to undermine national security, and I will vote to approve. But our communications networks face other security threats that we cannot continue to ignore. Earlier this month, it was reported that the Department of Homeland Security acknowledged in a letter to Senator Ron Wyden that cell site simulators are being used in the nation’s capital, potentially by foreign or criminal actors. These surveillance tools can transform cell phones into real-time tracking devices by mimicking legitimate cell towers and some may even have the technical capability to record the content of calls. If these reports are true, someone needs to explain how foreign actors are transmitting over our airwaves without approval from this agency. Someone also needs to explain whether the devices being used have been certified by the FCC. The security of our communications is at stake right here, right now in Washington and this agency owes the public more than silence.