U.S. Declares National Emergency over Threats to IT Infrastructure

United States’ president Donald Trump has declared a national emergency overnight, citing the need to protect the country’s IT networks from “foreign adversaries”.

President Trump signed off on an executive order which, essentially bans US companies from using hardware manufactured by foreign telecoms like Huawei- which the current administration believes poses a severe security risk to the country’s infrastructure.

According to a statement from the White House the emergency declaration is aiming to “protect America from foreign adversaries who are actively and increasingly creating and exploiting vulnerabilities in information and communication technology infrastructure and services.”

The statement adds that the emergency declaration gives the current secretary of commerce the ability to “prohibit transactions posing an unacceptable risk to the national security.”

While Trump’s declaration didn’t mention any company by name, the move can be seen as a thinly-veiled jab at Chinese telecom Huawei, which has been accused of spying on behalf of the People’s Republic of China. Huawei’s chairman Liang Hua has dismissed these allegations, and has since the company was willing to sign a no-spy agreement with foreign governments to ensure this doesn’t happen.

The Trump administration has been advocating against the implementation of Huawei’s next-generation 5G network, calling it “untrustworthy.” Last August, Trump signed a bill that would block any Huawei or fellow Chinese technology company ZTE Corp hardware or equipment being used by the US government.

This latest order, according to The Guardian’s Sabrina Siddiqui, “invokes the International Emergency Economic Powers Act,” which gives Trump the authority to “regulate commerce in response to a national emergency that threatens the US. The order directs the commerce department, working with other agencies, to draw up a plan for enforcement within 150 days.”

Commerce secretary Wilbur Ross has told the press that the move has been under consideration for as long as 12-months, and would protect the US digital landscape from “foreign adversaries to the nationa’s information and communications technology and services supply chain.”

“Under President Trump’s leadership, Americans will be able to trust that our data and infrastructure are secure.”

Ajit Pai, who heads the Federal Communications Commission has previously called Huawei a threat to US security, and earlier this week added, “given the threats presented by certain foreign companies’ equipment and services, this is a significant step toward securing America’s networks.”

The ABC is reporting that the UK’s “security council had agreed to let Huawei participate in some aspects of building Britain’s 5G wireless network.”

They continued to explain that “while large US wireless companies have already cut ties with Huawei,” the problem remaining is that “small rural carriers continue to rely on both Huawei and ZTE switches and other equipment because they tend to be cheaper.”

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