On Wednesday August 12th, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the extension of the Clean Network Program aimed directly at guarding America’s sensitive information from “malign actors” like the Chinese Communist Party. This extension will include five new programs rooted in internationally accepted digital trust standards.
Below is a listed breakdown of each new program:
- Clean Carrier: This program will ensure that China’s network carriers are not connected with U.S. telecommunication networks as it would pose a threat to national security. This means Verizon Wireless, AT&T and other U.S. networks will need to ensure their networks are in no way associated with those of the Chinese.
- Clean Store: The purpose of this program is to remove untrusted apps from U.S. app stores. “PRC apps threaten our privacy, proliferate viruses and spread propaganda and disinformation,” as stated in the announcement released by the U.S. department of state. This program would include TikTok as it is currently owned by the Chinese technology company ByteDance.
- Clean Apps: Like the clean store program, Clean Apps aim to prevent untrusted PRC smartphone manufactures from making trusted apps available on their app stores. “Trusted” meaning those apps developed from leading U.S. and foreign companies that the U.S. is allied with. This pushes for these companies to ensure that their apps are removed from Huawei app store. The announcement released from the U.S. department of state reminds these companies that they would be “partnering with a human rights abuser” when having their available to Huawei users.
- Clean Cloud: This program aims to prevent U.S. citizens’ personal information stored on cloud-based systems from being accessed by foreign companies such as Alibaba, Baidu and Tencent. COVID-19 vaccine research was directly mentioned in the announcement as important information that this program would help protect from being accessed by foreign interference.
- Clean Cable: Last but not least, this program would ensure undersea cables that connect the U.S. to the global internet are not compromised by the PRC for intelligence gathering.
The U.S. is not the only country implementing the Clean Network program. The announcement mentions that more than thirty other countries are now “Clean Countries” and all have committed to exclusively using trusted vendors in their “Clean Networks”.
So, what does all this mean for U.S. based tech companies? Essentially, steer clear of associating with Chinese companies. If you run an app, you may not be able to have it listed in Chinese app stores. As we’ve seen already with TikTok, the government is very serious about preventing the Chinese from interfering with American intelligence and won’t budge on banning a popular app even if it’s assumed to be for entertainment purposes only.
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