New bill bans US government agencies using contractors with Huawei or ZTE tech

There’s more misery ahead for Huawei, which just saw AT&T pull out of a deal to carry its first smartphone, and fellow Chinese tech firm ZTE.

The duo are well known for their growing smartphone businesses worldwide, but it is their more established telecom networking and equipment units that are again under fire in Washington. A new bill introduced to Congress proposes a ban preventing branches of the U.S. government from working with service providers that use any equipment from either company for security reasons.

The bill is sponsored by Texas-based Republican Michael Conaway, who is leading the investigation into Russia’s alleged election interference. It builds on past action against Huawei (the world’s top seller of telecom equipment) and ZTE (ranked fifth), which included a ban on ZTE selling products to the U.S. government agencies in 2013. A further proposal lodged last year aimed to restrict the Pentagon from buying equipment from Chinese or Russian telecommunications.

Now things could go a step further and remove any potential for Huawei and ZTE technology to come into contact with the U.S. government through the long chain of contract companies and vendors who work with the state.

It proposes to outlaw engaging with third-party entities that use any of the following:

  • Telecommunications equipment produced by Huawei Technologies Company or ZTE Corporation (or any subsidiary or affiliate of such entities).
  • Telecommunications services provided by such entities or using such equipment.
  • Telecommunications equipment or services produced or provided by an entity that the head of the relevant agency reasonably believes to be an entity owned or controlled by, or otherwise connected to, the government of a covered foreign country.

TechCrunch contacted ZTE and Huawei for comment but we had not heard back from either company at the time of writing.

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