According to the Telegraph newspaper, Britain’s cyber-security agency has warned that it still has “technical concerns” over Huawei following growing US calls for its allies to block the controversial Chinese telecoms giant from rolling out its network technology, amid espionage fears.
The National Cyber Security Centre, the UK’s cyber defence agency and part of GCHQ, responded after New Zealand became the latest country to block Huawei from bidding for its next generation 5G telecom network.
The UK has continued to work with Huawei even as US security agencies condemned the Chinese company as a potential national security risk. Huawei has repeatedly denied the allegations, which have been exacerbated by its founder’s close links to the Chinese military.
Officials told the Financial Times that US envoys have urged the UK to secure their networks as the US continues to push for safeguards against Huawei.
US security officials have been pushing their European counterparts to exercise restraint on Huawei. “The US influence on this has really intensified recently,” a German official told the newspaper.
The heads of six major US intelligence agencies have warned that American citizens shouldn’t use products and services made by Chinese tech giants Huawei and ZTE. According to a report from CNBC, the intelligence chiefs made the recommendation during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Tuesday. The group included the heads of the FBI, the CIA, the NSA, and the director of national intelligence.
The US intelligence community has long been wary of Huawei, which was founded by a former engineer in China’s People’s Liberation Army and has been described by US politicians as “effectively an arm of the Chinese government.” This caution led to a ban on Huawei bidding for US government contracts in 2014, and it’s now causing problems for the company’s push into consumer electronics.
US lawmakers are currently considering a bill that would ban government employees from using Huawei and ZTE phones altogether.
According to the telecommunication experts, “The threat is legitimate, given the murky links between Huawei and Chinese authorities. The Chinese state has the authority to demand tech companies like Huawei turn over useful information or provide access to the communications and technologies owned and sold by Huawei. Chinese authorities can use this information and access to facilitate espionage or cyber attacks over Huawei communications technologies. Consumer tech devices like phones that rely on Huawei technologies will be easier for Chinese authorities to penetrate and exploit for these reasons.”