The FCC is investigating whether the U:1 wireless network it’s developing to combat “internet-enabled devices” could be used to monitor and surveil innocent Americans.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler on Thursday said the agency is looking into whether the company’s “Internet-enabled device” concept could be applied to the U1 wireless device that it’s building.
Wheeler’s comments came during a briefing with reporters in the lobby of the Federal Building.
FCC Chair Tom Wheeler.
“This is the FCC’s responsibility to investigate, if they can determine it’s not appropriate to do so, what we can do about it,” Wheeler said.
“The goal is to ensure that the rules that we have are designed to ensure they’re not being abused, to prevent it from happening again.”
Wheeler also addressed the controversy over an FCC order barring a California-based company, O2, from operating in the U2 network, which is being built for the military.
Wheeler said that while O2 “is a provider of broadband to military and civilian personnel” the company is not subject to the same regulations as commercial wireless carriers.
O2 has said it will comply with the order.
“We are committed to protecting the privacy and security of all of our customers and have worked with the Federal Communications Commission to establish strict rules that are in line with the needs of military personnel and their families,” the company said in a statement to Recode.
Wheeler on Wednesday announced a new initiative to protect consumers and businesses from “internet enabled devices” that are used to steal data, monitor their communications and monitor their activities online.
The order is intended to protect users’ privacy by preventing them from being spied on by internet-enabled mobile devices.