Marketplace: Prof. Zephyr Teachout Discusses TikTok Ban & Foreign Ownership of Telecom Companies


Fordham Law Professor Zephyr Teachout is quoted in a Marketplace article discussing the history of Congress working to limit foreign ownership of telecommunication firms in the United States.

It’s not every day that Congress takes aim at a specific foreign-owned company over national security worries. But limiting foreign ownership of firms in the U.S., especially in telecommunications, is a practice with a long history.

By long history, we mean like all the way back to the founding of the United States, says Zephyr Teachout, a professor at Fordham Law School.

“The focus and anxiety about foreign corruption and foreign powers was really central at the Constitutional Convention,” said Teachout.

The founders, she says, were really concerned that foreign countries would try to meddle in the U.S., so they passed measures including the Emoluments Clause which prohibits office holders from taking gifts from foreign officials.

Over the decades, the government restricted foreign businesses from taking part in energy, shipping and telecommunications.

“In 1912, the Radio Act was passed, which prohibited foreign ownership of radio stations, and that really became a model for other communications infrastructure,” said Teachout.

The idea, Teachout says, was to prevent foreign actors from using mass communication to do two things:

“Spying on the one hand and propaganda on the other,” explained Teachout.

Read “Worry about foreign ownership of telecom companies has a long history in the U.S.” in Marketplace.


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