Germany Won’t Ban Any 5G Supplier, Including Huawei

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Germany is resisting US pressure to shut out Chinese tech giant Huawei from its 5G networks — saying it will not ban any supplier for the next-gen mobile networks on an up front basis, per Reuters. “Essentially our approach is as follows: We are not taking a pre-emptive decision to ban any actor, or any company,” government spokesman, Steffen Seibert, recently told a news conference in Berlin.

The country’s Federal Network Agency is slated to be publishing detailed security guidance on the technical and governance criteria for 5G networks in the next few days. 

The next-gen mobile technology delivers faster speeds and lower latency than current-gen cellular technologies, as well as supporting many more connections per cell site. So it’s being viewed as the enabling foundation for futuristic technologies — from connected and autonomous vehicles to telesurgery.

But increased network capabilities that support many more critical functions means rising security risk. The complexity of 5G networks, marketed by operators as “intelligent connectivity,” also increases the surface area for attacks. So future network security is now a major geopolitical concern.  

German business newspaper Handelsblatt, which says it has reviewed a draft of the incoming 5G security requirements, reports that chancellor Angela Merkel stepped in to intervene to exclude a clause which would have blocked Huawei’s market access — fearing a rift with China if the tech giant is shut out.

Earlier this year it said the German government pledged the highest possible security standards for regulating next-gen mobile networks, saying also that systems should only be sourced from “trusted suppliers.” But those commitments have now been watered down by economic considerations at the top of the German government, according to the account.

The decision not to block Huawei’s access has attracted criticism within Germany, and flies in the face of continued U.S. pressure on allies to ban the Chinese tech giant over security and espionage risks. The U.S. imposed its own export controls on Huawei in May.

A key concern attached to Huawei is that back in 2017, China’s Communist Party passed a national intelligence law which gives the state power to compel assistance from companies and individuals to gather foreign and domestic intelligence. Huawei has consistently denied the assertions. 

October 23, 2019

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