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UK Spooks Give Green Light to Huawei

There was finally a bit of good news for Huawei today after UK spies effectively gave the green light for the beleaguered Chinese firm to supply the nation’s 5G infrastructure.

GCHQ’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has reportedly decided that any risks posed by the Shenzhen giant can be managed, putting it add odds with its Five Eyes counterparts.

Australia, the US and New Zealand have all effectively banned the firm from supplying key infrastructure to build their national 5G networks while Canada is currently assessing the situation.

The fear is that the firm could be instructed by Beijing under local laws to assist in any possible intelligence operation in the future. It has also come under fire for alleged IP theft and breaking US sanctions on Iran — with Washington firing out a series of indictments last month.

However, the UK has always had a more nuanced approach to Huawei, having allowed the firm to compete for contracts as long as its kit can be assessed by GCHQ operatives in the Huawei Cyber Security Evaluation Centre (HCSEC).

This is despite that same centre highlighting significant shortcomings in the firm’s processes last year that “exposed new risks in UK telecoms networks,” meaning it has “only limited assurance” that Huawei equipment poses no threat to national security.

These issues will cost Huawei an estimated $2bn to mitigate over the coming years.

There’s also a chance that, even after the NCSC’s recommendation, the government could decide to align with its Western intelligence allies and order network operators to use equipment from other providers.

A DCMS review into the industry is set to report back in a month or two.

Huawei has consistently argued that it is not a security risk, and that it has instead merely been the victim of an escalating geopolitical dispute between the US and China.

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