As we’ve reported before, the fundamental problem the FCC and American law enforcement in general has with phones by Huawei, ZTE, and other Chinese manufacturers is a vital design feature in the Chinese market. Chinese phones have to be accessible to Chinese government officials on demand. In the United States, multiple court decisions have asserted that no such right exists for American law enforcement.

That said, the issue is still undecided. The EFF has broken down the state of play, but as of October there is no across-the-board legal standard on whether law enforcement has the right to access an American’s phone data. If they do have such a right, the data they collect and under what circumstances still isn’t clear

It’s a contentious issue — Apple famously went around and around with the FBI about decrypting the San Bernadino shooter’s iPhone, as the New York Times reports — and one that isn’t easily solved. For the present, all we know for sure is that the FCC will not allow phones engineered to grant easy government access to be sold on the American market.

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