Huawei calls FCC's new restrictions unconstitutional in legal challenge

Move comes after agency barred US carriers from using federal funds to buy equipment from the embattled Chinese telecom.

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Huawei has filed a legal challenge to an FCC decision that bars US carriers from using federal funds to purchase gear from the Chinese telecom.

Wang Zhao/AFP via Getty Images)

Huawei has fired another salvo in its escalating battle with the US government. On Wednesday it announced it filed a legal challenge against the Federal Communications Commission's decision last month to bar rural carriers in the US from using federal subsidies to purchase equipment from the embattled Chinese telecom giant.

The FCC announced in November it had voted to prohibit the use of its $8.5 billion a year Universal Service Fund to purchase equipment and services from Huawei and ZTE because they allegedly pose a national security threat. The government fund is used by multiple programs to subsidize US broadband deployment and services.

Huawei filed a petition for review Wednesday with the Fifth US Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans challenging the FCC decision, Song Liuping, the firm's chief legal officer, said in a statement Wednesday. The order "exceeds the FCC's statutory authority and violates federal law, the Constitution, and other laws," the company said in its filing (see below).

"The FCC claims that Huawei is a security threat, but FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has not provided any evidence," Song said during a press conference held at the company's headquarters in Shenzhen, China.

"Banning a company like Huawei, just because we started in China -- this does not solve cyber security challenges," he said.

The FCC declined to comment.

The US has long alleged that Huawei and ZTE maintain tight relationships with the Chinese government, creating fear that equipment from these manufacturers could be used to spy on other countries and companies. The Commerce Department blacklisted Huawei following a May executive order from President Donald Trump that effectively banned the company from US communications networks. Huawei and ZTE deny that their gear can be used for spying.

This is the third lawsuit Huawei has filed against the US government this year. Huawei filed a lawsuit in March against the US for the overall ban on its equipment. The company filed another lawsuit in June against the US Commerce Department and other agencies after the government returned telecom equipment it seized back in September 2017, but the company dropped that lawsuit in September.