WASHINGTON, D.C. – Over the weekend Axios reported that officials within the Trump administration were considering a move to nationalize the country’s 5G telecommunications network, according to a PowerPoint presentation they obtained.
It should go without saying that nationalizing industries, or any part of their private assets, is a flagrant abuse of property rights and anathema to a nation built upon liberty and free markets. These kind of moves are more typical of Third World socialist countries like Venezuela and should never be tolerated in the United States.
“Trump national security officials are considering an unprecedented federal takeover of a portion of the nation’s mobile network to guard against China, according to sensitive documents obtained by Axios.
Why it matters: We’ve got our hands on a PowerPoint deck and a memo — both produced by a senior National Security Council official — which were presented recently to senior officials at other agencies in the Trump administration.
The main points: The documents say America needs a centralized nationwide 5G network within three years. There’ll be a fierce debate inside the Trump administration — and an outcry from the industry — over the next 6-8 months over how such a network is built and paid for.”
Protecting “us” is a justification routinely offered by national security officials to abridge the rights of American citizens.
The so called ‘Patriot Act’ did this when it enabled the federal government to violate the rights of citizens with the justification that it was necessary to protect Americans from terrorist threats.
The National Security Agency violates Americans’ Fourth Amendment rights when it scoops up our private communications and spies on citizens – all in the name of national security.
According to Axios, two options were floated to centralize control of the network:
- The U.S. government pays for and builds the single network — which would be an unprecedented nationalization of a historically private infrastructure.
- An alternative plan where wireless providers build their own 5G networks that compete with one another — though the document says the downside is it could take longer and cost more. It argues that one of the “pros” of that plan is that it would cause “less commercial disruption” to the wireless industry than the government building a network.
Option 1 would lead to federal control of a part of the economy that today is largely controlled by private wireless providers. In the memo, the Trump administration likens it to “the 21st century equivalent of the Eisenhower National Highway System” and says it would create a “new paradigm” for the wireless industry by the end of Trump’s current term.
In world where we already know the NSA is inclined to spy on Americans illegally, why would anyone be comfortable with the U.S. Government owning and operating a network that carried all of that communications traffic?
Moreover, American telecom companies have already invested billions in deploying a 5G network as they naturally compete to have the best technology and faster networks. Any move to nationalize the 5G space would necessarily squash these investments with the boot of Big Government.
The presentation also mentions implementing federal standards for 5G deployments, meaning that states could not set their own standards for where equipment goes and which equipment can be used.
All of this is suggested under a banner of ‘national security’ to guard against China.
“…to combat Chinese threats to America’s economic and cyber security. A PowerPoint slide says the play is the digital counter to China’s One Belt One Road Initiative meant to spread its influence beyond its borders. The documents also fret about China’s dominance of Artificial Intelligence, and use that as part of the rationale for this unprecedented proposal.
The memo says China is slowly winning the AI “algorithm battles,” and that “not building the network puts us at a permanent disadvantage to China in the information domain.””
Excuse me, but the United States of America should not be countering China’s central planning by also nationalizing our own industries for the purposes of central planning.
America has a system for insuring that the best technologies proliferate and maintain her competitive advantage – it’s called free market competition, capitalism, liberty.
Our free market companies are already building these networks, and undoubtedly doing it more efficiently and expeditiously than the federal government. The memo mentions a three year goal of implementing such a federal network – AT&T, Verizon, and others are already well on their way to reaching that goal through good, old fashioned competition.
The national security officials floating this proposal have too strong an affinity for the statism and control wielded by the Chinese Communist Party. It has no place in the United States of America. If anything, the laws and regulations that slow down research, development, and deployment of such communications technology should be relaxed if we want to insure our edge over the Chinese.
Capitalism is better than Statism. It always will be. Using national security as a guise to stifle the former and introduce the latter in larger degrees is insulting to the idea of America and threatening to the individual rights of her citizens.