Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenOvernight Health Care: Warren unveils ‘Medicare for All’ funding plan | Warren says plan won’t raise middle class taxes | Rivals question claims | Biden camp says plan will hit ‘American workers’ | Trump taps cancer doctor Stephen Hahn for FDA chief White House distances itself from Pelosi plan to lower drug prices Twitter shakes up fight over online political ads MORE (D-Ore.) on Wednesday urged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to take action to secure the United States’ fifth-generation wireless networks, or 5G, against cyber threats.
Wyden warned in a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai that vulnerabilities in past 3G and 4G networks that left them open to hacking could occur in 5G networks if action is not taken to secure them. He also strongly advocated for wireless carriers to use encryption to secure user data.
“The FCC must stop leaving the cybersecurity of American consumers, businesses and government agencies to wireless carriers, and finally secure America’s next-generation 5G networks against interception and hacking by criminals and foreign spies,” Wyden wrote.
Wyden pressed Pai on whether the FCC supports encrypting all text messages and phone calls to help prevent security breaches and whether the FCC chair would support a third-party assessment being done to understand the security of wireless carriers’ networks, such as AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon.
The senator also argued that the FCC should ensure that these wireless carriers build in cybersecurity protections as they roll out 5G networks.
“The FCC must act to ensure that encryption and authentication features included in 5G standards are enabled by AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile as they upgrade their networks,” Wyden wrote.
The senator asked that Pai respond by Dec. 6. A spokesperson for the FCC confirmed to The Hill that agency officials had “received the letter and are reviewing it,” not commenting further.
Wyden has written to Pai in the past voicing concerns about the security of telecommunications networks.
In 2017, Wyden and Rep. Ted LieuTed W. LieuDemocrat hits White House spokeswoman after Trump appointee changes testimony PETA asks DOJ to stop conducting training that harms animals Lawmakers express concern to DOJ over training involving ‘stabbing, burning and shooting’ animals MORE (D-Calif.) sent a letter to Pai asking that the FCC prioritize warning Americans about the vulnerability of the telecommunications network to foreign threats and urged the FCC to force industry to take action to secure networks against cyber threats.
The FCC last week took steps to secure U.S. telecommunications networks against potential cyber threats from Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE, citing national security concerns.
New proposals, which the FCC is set to vote on later this month, would ban U.S. telecom companies from buying products from these companies using FCC funds and would potentially require American companies that already have equipment from these companies to rip it out and replace it.