CULPEPER STAR-EXPONENT, CLINT SCHEMMER
President Donald J. Trump has signed into law U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger’s bipartisan bill requiring a national strategy to protect American 5G telecommunications systems from foreign threats.
The president signed the legislation late Monday night, as current events highlighted the importance of cybersecurity.
In response to the nation’s growing coronavirus pandemic, millions of Americans have shifted to telework, remote learning, shopping remotely, and doing business online. During this crisis, cyberattacks and disinformation campaigns could target U.S. food supplies, hospitals, and emergency response systems, according to other lawmakers and cybersecurity experts.
In recent weeks, the U.S. government also has warned against foreign-based malware attacks and phishing scams targeting American families and seniors as they seek information on and protection from COVID-19.
To better find and fix vulnerabilities in U.S. telecommunications systems, the Central Virginia lawmaker’s Secure 5G and Beyond Act requires the administration to develop an unclassified, national strategy to shield U.S. consumers and help U.S. allies maximize the security of their 5G systems.
That is key as foreign 5G firms such as Huawei and ZTE continue to gain influence, the congresswoman’s office said.
The new law’s strategy will also identify ways to spur 5G research and development by U.S. companies.
“We need to build a national game plan—informed by experts and public consultation—that can protect our neighbors from potential foreign counterintelligence efforts,” Spanberger said in a statement. “I’m proud to see my legislation signed into law by the president, because our national security in the coming decades will depend in part on our ability to defend our networks, enhance U.S. competitiveness in the realm of 5G technology, and anticipate emerging threats posed by nefarious actors.”
The president also has signed into law Spanberger bills. One on border security with Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX), and another combating child exploitation with Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), who is now Trump’s chief of staff. Trump enacted the latter bill in December 2019.
In the U.S. Senate, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) led colleagues on the bipartisan 5G bill.
Earlier this month, the House and Senate unanimously passed the Secure 5G and Beyond Act, before sending the legislation to President Trump’s desk to be signed into law.
In January 2020, the House voted 413-3 to pass the House version of Spanberger’s bill.
Spanberger introduced her legislation in May 2019 with Reps. Susan W. Brooks (R-IN-05), Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ-01), Francis Rooney (R-FL-19), Elissa Slotkin (D-MI-08), and Elise Stefanik (R-NY-21).
On the day of the bill’s introduction, Spanberger discussed the Secure 5G and Beyond Act on CBS News. Watch the interview here.
The bipartisan Secure 5G and Beyond Act requires that the administration build an interagency strategy to:
— Secure 5th generation and future-generation telecommunications systems and infrastructure across the United States;
— Assist U.S. allies and defense partners in maximizing the security of 5G systems and infrastructure in their countries; and
— Protect the competitiveness of U.S. companies, the privacy of U.S. consumers, and the integrity of international standards-setting bodies against foreign political influence.
In January, Spanberger joined C-SPAN’s “The Communicators” to highlight House passage of her bill. See the interview here.
Spanberger’s bill passed the House Foreign Affairs Committee in October 2019 and the House Energy and Commerce Committee the next month.