Tuesday, 16 July 2019 11:38

UK tech panel finds no evidence for complete Huawei ban Featured

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UK tech panel finds no evidence for complete Huawei ban Image by luxstorm from Pixabay

The British Parliamentary Science and Technology Committee says it has found no evidence to suggest that the complete exclusion of Chinese telecommunications equipment vendor Huawei Technologies from the UK telecommunications networks would constitute "a proportionate response to the potential security threat posed by foreign suppliers".

Norman Lamb, chair of the panel, said in a letter sent on Monday, to Jeremy Wright, secretary of state for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, that a public evidence session had been held and relevant stakeholders quizzed before the letter was sent.

In a statement on Tuesday, Huawei Australia said it warmly welcomed the conclusion reached by the panel.

Lamb said in a statement that the panel he headed had concluded that there were no technical grounds for excluding Huawei entirely from Britain's 5G or other telecommunications networks.

“The benefits of 5G are clear and the removal of Huawei from the current or future networks could cause significant delays," Lamb wrote.

“However, as outlined in the letter to the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, we feel there may well be geopolitical or ethical considerations that the government need to take into account when deciding whether they should use Huawei’s equipment.

“The government also needs to consider whether the use of Huawei’s technology would jeopardise this country’s ongoing co-operation with our major allies.

“Moreover, Huawei has been accused of supplying equipment in Western China that could be enabling serious human rights abuses. The evidence we heard during our evidence session did little to assure us that this is not the case.

“I hope the evidence we have gathered helps the government as it completes its Telecoms Supply Chain Review, which must be published by the end of August 2019.”

In a slap to Australia, Lamb said in his letter to Wright that while the Australian Government had concluded "that the distinction between the 'core' and 'non-core' elements of 5G networks would be less clear than for previous technology generations, we heard unanimously and clearly that a distinction between the 'core' and 'non-core' parts of a 5G network will still exist".

He cited Dr Ian Levy, technical director of the UK National Cyber Security Centre as having said that, "from a purely technical point of view, geography matters in 5G", and quoted him as saying, "UK and Australia have very different geographies – so our laydowns will be very different to Australia's laydowns. So we may have exactly the same technical understanding, but come to very different conclusions."

Lamb pointed out a decision by British telcos to exclude Huawei gear from the core parts of their 5G networks was voluntary, adding that the government should mandate this and make clear the grounds on which such a decision was based so that other companies would have a clear line of reasoning to follow.

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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