While lawmakers debate numerous issues of significance, an important matter surrounding personal freedom and national security quietly looms in the background. America and our Western allies are locked in a modern-day space race with China and Russia to establish international norms for the revolutionary 5G wireless network.

In a world increasingly reliant on the web, 5G has the potential to provide internet at presently unfathomable speeds. However, in order for the 5G framework to be established on principles based in individual freedom rather than censorship and espionage, the United States must be the first to cross the finish line in the 5G race.

In authoritarian countries like China and Russia, citizens do not have many of the freedoms that we take for granted. Empowered by recent leaps in technology, the Chinese government frequently and successfully suppresses speech and expression. Not surprisingly, the Russians have even engaged in a disinformation campaign in the U.S. to convince Americans that 5G is bad for our health.

While most of the luxuries ushered in by the rapid technological advances of the past few decades can certainly make life easier, it’s important to ensure that they are used for good rather than evil. The only way to guarantee that the blueprint for 5G infrastructure is constructed with consumers’ privacy and security in mind is if it is created in a free society.

5G has massive implications for our military, and it is imperative that we maintain a technological advantage over our international foes. Indeed, 5G has the potential to change the way battles are fought. Dr. Michael D. Griffin, Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering at the Department of Defense, recently noted that 5G has been elevated to the top of DOD’s priority list. With robotics and artificial intelligence on the rise, 5G can provide the internet speeds necessary for these systems to operate properly. China and Russia must not outpace America and our allies. Indeed, our nation has a duty to utilize advanced means of warfare if it means our dedicated service members will be better equipped and kept out of harm’s way.

Diplomatically, the U.S. must persuade our allies to refrain from purchasing and utilizing Chinese 5G infrastructure. And if our allies are unable to do so, the United States should reconsider the means through which we share information with them. China has repeatedly been caught conducting espionage operations in numerous countries. Make no mistake, the Chinese will continue spying and their efforts will likely yield even better results if our allies’ assets are built with Chinese technology.

I applaud President Trump for reducing regulations at the administrative level and providing markets more breathing space, which will allow the U.S. to catch up and keep pace with China and Russia. In the meantime, DOD has expressed interest in testing new 5G technology produced in the private sector. I think this would certainly be appropriate, and I hope that American tech companies will show their patriotism by making this a reality. In Congress, I stand ready to work with my colleagues to do what we can to ensure that this cutting-edge technology is built for consumers rather than tyrants.

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