US agency investigates risks of foreign satellite usage on handheld devices

A US agency is conducting an inquiry into the potential hazards associated with the utilisation of foreign satellite systems on handheld devices.

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On 14 March 2024, the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced an investigation into potential security threats posed by the utilisation of Russian and Chinese foreign satellite systems by US mobile phones and other devices. The FCC is specifically concerned that US handheld devices may be receiving and processing signals from Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) controlled by foreign adversaries, potentially violating commission regulations.

The FCC has reached out to major handset manufacturers such as Apple, Google, Motorola, Nokia, Samsung, and others, which collectively dominate over 90% of the US smartphone market, seeking clarification. However, these companies have not yet responded to requests for comment. A spokesperson for the FCC stated that there is currently no established record regarding the security threats posed by signals from foreign satellite systems and whether these signals are being processed in violation of the Commission’s regulations.