Defence committee launches probe into Huawei and 5G security

Written by Sam Trendall on 9 March 2020 in News

MPs will consider issues including whether it is possible to separate peripheral and sensitive parts of networks

Credit: Andre M. Chang/Zuma Press/PA Images

A cross-party committee of MPs is to launch a probe into the security implications of the UK’s plans for its 5G network and whether concerns about the use of Huawei equipment are justified.

The House of Commons Defence Sub-Committee is calling for evidence on a range of issues. Its first and primary consideration is to assess the scale and nature of the danger posed to 5G infrastructure by the current plans for the network, and how these risks can be mitigated.

Other issues that the committee is seeking to examine include the extent to which it is “possible to exclude Huawei technology from the most sensitive parts of the UK’s 5G network while allowing it to supply peripheral components”. 

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MPs are also seeking answers to the question of whether or not there are any “credible alternatives” to Huawei technology, as well as whether the decision on how to use the vendor’s kit was “driven by political rather than technical factors”.

The inquiry will also consider any potential geopolitical ramifications of the network’s use of Huawei, particularly in terms of the UK’s relationship with its allies in the Five Eyes intelligence alliance.

“There are several challenges associated with 5G rollout, chief amongst these are concerns over the security of 5G networks,” the committee said. “Concerns have been raised in parliament, relevant industries, academia and by the press regarding the use of equipment in 5G networks that has been supplied by foreign companies, focusing on Chinese telecoms supplier Huawei. There are concerns about the security standards of Huawei equipment in general, the extent to which Chinese law could compel the company to assist the state’s intelligence services, coupled with broader ethical and ideological concerns about the growing global presence of Chinese technology companies.”

The committee is currently inviting written evidence submissions “from anyone with answers to the questions being posed”. Those wishing to submit have until 3 April to do so.

The Defence Sub-Committee is comprised of the same 11 members who make up the primary defence select committee, and is chaired by Tobias Ellwood, the Conservative MP for Bournemouth East.


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Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology

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