The UK government has reportedly approved the supply of equipment by Chinese tech firm Huawei for the new 5G data network. This is despite security warnings from the US, which is urging the UK and its other allies in the “Five Eyes” intelligence group (Canada, Australia and New Zealand) to exclude the company.
Australia has sided with the US, which has spoken of “serious concerns over Huawei’s obligations to the Chinese government and the danger that poses to the integrity of telecommunications networks in the US and elsewhere”. However, according to the Daily Telegraph, Huawei will help build the “non-core” infrastructure of the UK’s 5G network.
Huawei has always denied claims it is controlled by the Chinese government. In February, PCR reported on a statement made by the company in which it responded to a letter written by the chair of the Science and Technology Select Committee, Norman Lamb MP, who raised concerns regarding Chinese legislation that may require companies to assist in intelligence work.
“We have never, and will never, gather UK information for Chinese intelligence,” stressed Huawei’s Carrier Business group president Ryan Ding. “Huawei is a closely watched company. We have 180,000 employees and tens of thousands of partners, and we are subject to extensive regulatory oversight in numerous countries around the globe. Were Huawei ever to engage in malicious behaviour, it would not go unnoticed – and it would certainly destroy our business. For us, it is a matter of security or nothing; there is no third option. We choose to ensure security.”
Referring to the Telegraph’s report, Huawei said it was awaiting a formal announcement, but was “pleased that the UK is continuing to take an evidence-based approach to its work”.
UKFast CEO Lawrence Jones MBE has come out in support of the UK’s decision to work with Huawei, claiming that the US is leading the anti-Huawei charge because its previous dominance is being challenged.
“Personally I don’t see an issue with the British government using Huawei in this way, because there’s currently no hard evidence of collusion between it and the Chinese government,” said Jones. “It would be unfair to disadvantage a commercial business when there’s absolutely no evidence to date that they have done anything wrong.
“There is a great deal of fuss over Huawei and I am not sure anyone has provided any real evidence. A lot of the noise around this is coming from the US, which has previously enjoyed complete dominance in the router and networking market and sees Chinese technology as a significant threat.
“What we do know is that the US government has the right under the CLOUD Act to access and obtain data from any US company regardless of their physical jurisdiction, yet this seems to have gone largely unnoticed in the midst of the controversy surrounding Huawei.”
Jones pointed out that none is banning US vendors in spite of the “potentially intrusive” ruling of US government policy. “We don’t use Huawei at UKFast and have no intention of using them because we’re happy using Cisco and Arista. However, if Huawei makes a competitive product and can prove that the rumours of collusion are nonsense then they should be able to apply to tender like any other business.”
He added: “I think vendors have a responsibility to work with governments and law enforcement agencies with the right court documentation when it comes to keeping networks secure, but I don’t believe any government should have the right to ‘sniff’ and listen into networks without court intervention.”
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