Britain is finally going to make decision on Huawei 5G

Lianna Brinded
Head of Yahoo Finance UK
Photo Illustration: Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The British government will make a decision on whether to allow Huawei equipment to be used in its 5G networks by December this year, according to UK digital minister Nicky Morgan.

She said on the BBC radio that: “We will make the right decision for the UK. I would hope we could do something by the autumn. We've got to make sure that this is going to be a decision for the long term, making sure that we keep all our networks secure."

The US, as well as a number of other countries and agencies, have continually pointed out Huawei’s ties to the Chinese government as well as emphasising China’s National Intelligence Law that says organisations must “support, co-operate with and collaborate in national intelligence work.”

Since then, Australia, the US and New Zealand, have barred local firms from using Huawei to provide the technology for their 5G networks.

READ MORE: Labour looking at delaying Britain's 5G rollout over Huawei security concerns

But Britain has yet to make a decision on its position on Huawei as it has been navigating a recent change in cabinet positions — such as a new prime minister — and Brexit reportedly happening on 31 October this year.

Last month, former US secretary of state for Homeland Security Tom Ridge told Yahoo Finance UK about the threat of Huawei over 5G servers.

Ridge, who was the inaugural Homeland Security chief under George Bush described exploitation by Huawei in order to ensure information makes it to the Chinese intelligence services is “virtually guaranteed.”

A staff member of Huawei uses her mobile phone at the Huawei Digital Transformation Showcase in Shenzhen, China's Guangdong province on March 6, 2019. Photo: WANG ZHAO/AFP/Getty Images

“To have a company obliged in their intelligence law in helping their government get information, [would mean] exploitation is virtually guaranteed. Hopefully the next prime minister [now Boris Johnson] will sit down with Five Eyes and they will persuade him risk above cost.”

Ridge continued that allowing Huawei into the UK “would alter information sharing, it would be more cumbersome. This change in government will hopefully bring about a change in policy.”

READ MORE: Former Homeland Security Chief: Change in UK prime minister should lead to change in policy on Huawei

Earlier this year, a group of major UK mobile operators wrote a letter to the government’s cabinet secretary at the time, Mark Sedwill, to urge Whitehall to clarify its position over Chinese tech giant Huawei.

In April, Britain's National Security Council, chaired by former prime minister Theresa May, met to discuss Huawei. They made a decision to not fully ban the company — blocking it from parts of the 5G network but also giving it restricted access to less sensitive parts.

However earlier this year, the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre, which is part of the UK government’s intelligence and security organisation GCHQ, released a report that severely criticised the Chinese company, by saying there are “significant technical issues in Huawei’s engineering processes” and its approach to software development brings “significantly increased risk to UK operators.”

In February, the head of Britain’s foreign intelligence service MI6, Alex Younger warned at the Munich Security Conference against the UK using a single provider of equipment in new 5G mobile networks.