Under fire Chinese telecoms giant Huawei has agreed to demands from the British intelligence services when it comes to its equipment and software, following growing concerns across the globe.
According to the Financial Times, Huawei executives met senior officials from Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) where they agreed to a range of technical requirements to ease security fears.
While the NCSC downplayed the agreement, saying they were in regular dialogue with Huawei and Robert Hannigan, former head of GCHQ warned of the hysteria over Chinese technology, there have been undoubted concerns.
Last Friday one of Huawei’s executives was arrested in Canada on a US extradition request. The company described the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, as a ‘despicable rogue’s approach’ and part of a worldwide campaign against the company.
The arrest is a clear sign that the US is ratcheting-up the pressure on China over what are perceived as unfair trade practices. And federal regulators are in the process of implementing rules that would deny Huawei from rolling-out 5G networks in the United States.
Likewise, over this summer Australia barred Huawei from providing 5G technology for wireless networks, following fears over espionage. New Zealand also followed suit.
Then last Wednesday BT announced it was removing Huawei’s telecommunications equipment from its 4G network within two years. BT has also excluded Huawei from bidding for contracts to supply equipment for use in its core 5G network.
At the time, BT said the move would bring its mobile phone business in line with an internal policy of keeping Huawei’s equipment at the edge of their telecoms infrastructure. This came about after the head of MI6 foreign intelligence service warned that the Chinese giant was a potential security risk.
And here lies the nub of the problem. So far, British intelligence has not reported finding any backdoors or malicious intervention, describing official criticism as more to do with incompetence rather than malice. But the forthcoming 5G is a different challenge given more data is processed locally, making it harder to keep track of it.
Despite the sanctions being placed, Huawei has still managed to become one of the leaders in 5G infrastructure across the globe, while it recently overtook Apple as the second largest maker of smartphones.
Image: Razvan Socol