A hot potato: Despite the United States warning its allies not to use Huawei equipment for their 5G networks, the UK believes it can limit any potential risks, making an outright ban unnecessary. The decision could see other European leaders follow suit and also use the Chinese firm’s technology.
The Financial Times reports that the UK's National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), part of GCHQ, has concluded that the risks posed by Huawei’s equipment can be mitigated. The agency believes this is possible by, among other things, restricting some parts of the 5G networks and using several different suppliers.
Back in November, it was reported that the US had reached out to its allies, advising them not to use Huawei parts in their telecom infrastructure. The government has long accused the firm of spying at the behest of China, and US agencies last year warned Americans not to use Huawei or ZTE devices, else risk having their personal data stolen.
While Australia and New Zealand have banned Huawei from providing equipment for their 5G networks, the NCSC’s conclusion would “carry great weight” with European leaders.
“Other nations can make the argument that if the British are confident of mitigation against national security threats then they can also reassure their publics and the U.S. administration that they are acting in a prudent manner in continuing to allow their telecommunications service providers to use Chinese components as long as they take the kinds of precautions recommended by the British,” the FT’s source said.
A spokesperson for the UK’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport department said the review of 5G security was "ongoing." It will be up to the country’s government to decide whether to take the NCSC’s advice on board.
The news will doubtlessly be unwelcome by the US, which has been clamping down hard on Huawei in recent months. The company’s CFO was arrested in Canada at the request of the United States in December, and the firm is under investigation for allegedly stealing trade secrets.
Huawei last week said it was “shocked or sometimes amused” by the security allegations, and was willing “to accept the supervision and suggestions of all European governments, customers, and partners.”