Global security officials have agreed a set of proposals for future 5G networks, highlighting concerns about equipment supplied by vendors that might be subject to State influence.
No suppliers were named, but the US has been pressing allies to limit the role of Chinese telecom equipment makers such as Huawei Technologies over concerns their gear could be used by Beijing for spying.
Huawei denies this. “The overall risk of influence on a supplier by a third country should be taken into account,” participants at the conference in the Czech capital said in a non-binding statement.
Representatives from 30 European Union, NATO and countries such as the US, Germany, Japan and Australia attended the meeting to hash out an outline of practices that could form a coordinated approach to shared security and policy measures.
Diplomatic sources said participating countries were not ready to sign any documents in Prague because they had not concluded debates about the issue at home but called for participants to seize on the momentum moving forward.
“This would be a pity if this turns out to be a one-off event,” Japan’s ambassador for cyber policy Masato Ohtaka said. Neither China nor Huawei were invited to the event, although participants said no country or company was being singled out.
Some western countries’ concerns about Huawei center on China’s 2017 National Intelligence Law, stating that Chinese “organisations and citizens shall, in accordance with the law, support, cooperate with, and collaborate in national intelligence work.”
EU members have until the end of June to assess cybersecurity risks related to 5G, leading to a bloc-wide assessment by October 1. Using this, EU countries would then have to agree measures to mitigate risks by the end of the year. Huawei said it was ready to work with regulators and other stakeholders on creating effective rules.
“We are encouraged by the emphasis on the importance of research and development, open markets and competition, but would urge policymakers to avoid measures that will increase bureaucracy and costs and limit the benefit that 5G can bring,” it said.
“As the EU continues its deliberations, we firmly believe that any future security principles should be based on verifiable facts and technical data.”
Europe, where Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Netherlands, Lithuania and Portugal are preparing to auction 5G licenses this year has become a battleground over Huawei’s next-generation technology.
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