back to article Senior UK.gov ministers asked: So, are we going to ban Huawei or what?

The British government has been asked to confirm that national telecommunications infrastructure is secure amid growing concerns about Chinese supplier Huawei. In letters to the secretaries of state for defence, foreign affairs and digital, Norman Lamb, chairman of the Commons Science and Technology Committee, said it was …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Would other countries shun a Huawei-toting UK ?

    Might be the issue here ?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Would other countries shun a Huawei-toting UK ?

      Would other countries shun a Huawei-toting UK ?

      Possibly, but they'd haver to shun Germany as well. I say we follow the German example and demand some proper evidence from anybody making assertions, and also those who are trying to merely imply some threat, without the courage to accuse directly.

      We could start off with Norman Lamb being asked to explain why he's concerned. Before getting on the parliamentary gravy train he was an employment lawyer with a provincial law firm, so I'm sure he's got a good grasp of the technologies, and how Huawei are undermining democracy.

    2. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Would other countries shun a Huawei-toting UK ?

      The problem is, the alternative is big iron from companies like Cisco. They are renowned for backdoors in their software and firmware - one of their SoHo routers hit the news last week because of a backdoor password snafu.

      And there were also reports of HP kit being intercepted by the CIA and having spyware installed.

      So, who do you go with? Hauwei who has been accused of spying, but no evidence provided or Cisco who is known to have had backdoors in its equipment, or HP whose kit has been intercepted in the past and spyware installed...

      Hmm, tough decision.

  2. Rich 11 Silver badge

    The UK won't ban Huawei because...

    ...we will need to kou tou to China to get that greatest and bestest trade deal we've all been promised by Liam Fox and his charming friends.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There is pressure to do the same to Huawei in Norway which is part of the "9 eyes" out ring, But the govt there has previously felt the trade impact of getting on the wrong side of China, so are not likely to follow suit,

    This is not about defense by the way - its really about trade. Its a way of getting China and Huawei to compete less and thus let American and European companies get more of the pie. Which is appalling, since supposedly we are teaching them about free market capitalism.

    1. Wellyboot Silver badge

      We are teaching them - anything you can get away with is ok. see FB, Google... etc.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      They are absolutely aware of how it works. They've been taking the piss due to lack of government regulation of corporations in West for many years and they know it. At some point, maybe not soon, China will simply close the door on exports to the West. I suspect they'll do that before most of the manufacturing can be picked by other locations.

    3. fishbone

      Capitalism lessons

      What better lesson could you find?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The same elsewhere

    There is pressure to do the same to Huawei in Norway which is part of the "9 eyes" out ring, But the govt there has previously felt the trade impact of getting on the wrong side of China, so are not likely to follow suit,

    This is not about defense by the way - its really about trade. Its a way of getting China and Huawei to compete less and thus let American and European companies get more of the pie. Which is appalling, since supposedly we are teaching them about free market capitalism.

    1. Chinashaw

      Re: The same elsewhere

      I'm just curious about your evidence for this bold assertion? Are you a member of the security services or perhaps responsible for the economic policy in the UK? I do agree that this does have a trade side to it but if it was purely about trade, then why not ban all Chinese companies if there are Western competitors?

      I suspect also that there is a very serious security side to it as well, especially where 5G is concerned and the fact that it will (eventually) become a ubiquitous technology connecting everyone's underwear together.

      1. Yes Me Silver badge
        WTF?

        Re: The same elsewhere

        > I suspect also that there is a very serious security side to it

        Why, when after years of rumours not one single shred of evidence that Huawei products are more risky than, say, Cisco's or Ericsson's or Alcatel's has ever been offered? If anything, the evidence is the opposite, since the UK/Huawei testing lab has given Huawei a completely clean bill of health.

        This is all about protectionism. Quite how the NSA and GCHQ have been suborned to support protectionism is an interesting question.

      2. Ken 16 Silver badge
        Devil

        "responsible for the economic policy in the UK"

        If you are, please put your hand up since no one else seems willing to admit to that one.

  5. chivo243 Silver badge

    at least 4 years ago

    An acquaintance looked really burned out, and as we talked he mentioned his company was in the process being bought by another company. His problem was the new company had already said NO! to Huawei, it will not be on our networks. The company he worked for had just kitted out a lot of locations with Huawei gear.

    I'll have to remember to ask him how that went down...

  6. deive

    "identified "shortcomings" in engineering processes that "exposed new risks in the UK telecommunication networks and long-term challenges in mitigation and management"" - so, they found some security bugs then? It's not like all other pieces of kit won't have their own set of these.

    1. Andy The Hat Silver badge

      As I'm sure has already been mentioned, Cisco never has security bugs, Microsoft would never release code with security holes, Oracle is as secure as a secure thing, Google and Facebook are your friends. These are companies where security is not voluntarily audited by a third party security organisation who find 'issues' but relies on users finding those issues and reporting rather than exploiting them ... Scary that it's a Chinese company who have submitted to the inspection regime who are 'in the dock' not the others.

  7. JaitcH
    WTF?

    Another US Trade War In Disguise. Besides Who Would You Prefer Spying On You?

    Many claim politicians are technically ignorant, although there are exceptions like US politicians President Jimmy Carter, Ted Lieu and Ron Wyden, yet Obama led the drive to exclude the Chinese. Simply put it's the US perverting the international trade agreements, as their is their historical record - even before Trump.

    And as for endangering security, it is alleged that the GCHQ forced the weakness of the GSM standard.

    Personally, if anyone is to invade my privacy, I would much prefer the Chinese over the morally bereft characters in the GCHQ or the NSA.

    1. Chinashaw

      Re: Another US Trade War In Disguise. Besides Who Would You Prefer Spying On You?

      Are you serious or just stupid? While our government and many Western governments aren't exactly great, they are not in the same league/continent/universe as China with regards to who is the most 'morally bereft character'.

      Check out what has happened to HK since handover, repression, law change, kidnapping and imprisonment to name a few.

      Or perhaps you would like to visit the 're education camps' for the Muslim population. Then again you could pop over to Tibet, the independent state, wait it's not.

      For all our ill's we are nothing like as bad as communist China.

      1. Yes Me Silver badge

        Re: Another US Trade War In Disguise. Besides Who Would You Prefer Spying On You?

        It's a different form of moral bereftness. China has an utterly different view of human rights than Western countries do. But in this matter, the West is setting out to be utterly hypocritical, by claiming the merits of free global competition while misusing the security services to protect home industry against a cheaper, better foreign competitor.

        Apparently, free competition is OK as long as we're winning, but undesirable when we're losing. (As the UK will rediscover to its cost, if Brexit happens.)

  8. DanceMan

    Before you allow Huawei to dominate your country's 5G space, which will be all-encompassing, it is well to remember the Chinese surveillance state, hacking of foreign IP, suppression of freedom of expression, and bullying of anyone who gets on their bad books. Note the arrests of two Canadians, change to a death sentence to another, threats made to Canada directly by Chinese officials over the Meng arrest, and the links between Huawei and the PLA. They don't play by internationally accepted rules and before you put all the future 5G technology in those hands it's wise to keep that in mind. Jim Balsillie, ex RIM/Blackberry co-founder who might have a clue about security said as much on Canadian tv recently.

  9. tip pc Bronze badge

    Too little too late! RIP Marconi :(

    The UK gov had their chance to support home brew tech back when BT announced they where ditching Marconi in favour of Huawei for its 21st century net rebuild.

    It basically killed Marconi in the process with the loss of thousands of jobs ~2005. This was back when the uk pstn was permitted to convey information upto restricted unencrypted ~2005. Marconi getting the BT deal was effectively a sure thing, until it wasn’t. No one really saw their loss of the 21CN coming.

    GCHQ/UK gov had an easy opportunity to stop Huawei there and then but chose to get in bed with them.

    It was a stupid choice then

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What is the point?

    The Americans claim that the Chinese compromise one company.

    The Chinese claim that the Americans compromise another.

    We have to negotiate "trade" with both.

    Any attempt to actually FIND a compromise is illegal.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In the interest of balance ..

    .. I would like to have Huawei gear examined by people who are truly independent, but have that same scrutiny applied to whatever kit is proposed as replacement. There are a number of reasons for that:

    - whoever is under scrutiny draws the attention - other will get away with it then for longer (read: VERY long, given the replacement cycles in telecoms). By way of example: VW got rightfully into trouble for "diesel gate", but it emerged later that they weren't the only ones playing that game.

    - we really don't want backdoors, friendly or otherwise (IMHO there's no such thing as a friendly backdoor, but I digress). Not from China, but also not from other, so-called "friendly" nations.

    As I stated before, until there is proper public evidence of issues (of a nature that shows intent and is indeed usable to subvert functionality), I deem this just the second play on non US/UK/EU entities to push them out of the market in favour of friendlies who may be more of a risk than Kaspersky/Huawei/whoever is next.

    Let's be honest, we can't trust anyone nowadays - especially not our own governments (IMHO).

  12. Andytug

    What about other"critical national infrastructure"??

    Wil the Government also be looking into the security of water companies, power companies, rail companies, etc, etc, almost all of which have been sold piecemeal or wholesale to foreign companies either fully or partly owned/controlled by other foreign governments?

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