GOP rep rejects idea of nationalizing 5G: 'We're not Venezuela'

GOP rep rejects idea of nationalizing 5G: 'We're not Venezuela'
© Greg Nash

Rep. Greg WaldenGregory (Greg) Paul WaldenTrump draws ire after retreat on drug prices pledge FCC votes to bar use of its funds to purchase Huawei, ZTE equipment Hillicon Valley: Google to limit political ad targeting | Senators scrutinize self-driving car safety | Trump to 'look at' Apple tariff exemption | Progressive lawmakers call for surveillance reforms | House panel advances telecom bills MORE (R-Ore.), the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, rejected the idea of nationalizing the country’s 5G network on Monday, following the leak of a White House memo that had floated the idea.

“We’re not Venezuela — we don’t need to have the government run everything as the only choice,” Walden said during an interview at the State of the Net conference in Washington, D.C.

Axios reported Sunday that a National Security Council memo had floated the idea of nationalizing the 5G network being developed by the private sector in order to defend against China.

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The idea has been quickly rejected by the industry, many lawmakers and every member of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

“Any federal effort to construct a nationalized 5G network would be a costly and counterproductive distraction from the policies we need to help the United States win the 5G future,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement Monday.

Walden also argued that the project is better left to the private sector, citing the 2015 data breach at the Office of Personnel Management that exposed personal information of about 4 million people.

“A government that can’t protect the data of its own employees — I just struggle with the notion it’s going to run a complete architecture and network that will be hack-free,” Walden said.

He added that he had not known about the proposal and that he doubted it had been given serious consideration.

“I don’t think it had elevated itself to where the White House had a position on this,” Walden said.