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Is Huawei Technologies Devices A National Security Threat

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Recently, COAI defended Huawei, and said that its devices was not a threat to national security in India. Read on to know more about it…

Indian government has been working to keep telecom networks secure, with reviews of the security policy and the insertion of specific clauses into the licences to prevent any risk to network security.

Recently, the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) argued that the government and stated “acknowledges and appreciates the Chinese company to be in the forefront of 5G innovation”. Couple of days back, in a letter to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) secretary on Monday, the COAI, which represents telecom service providers, said: “They (Huawei) are suitably equipped to prepare operators and industry to build 5G capabilities in operations, in organisation and most importantly in the eco-system and to ensure they are fully compliant with all government  requirements.”

This defence of Huawei came after it emerged that the Telecom Equipment and Services Export Promotion Council (TEPC) plans to write to the National Security Advisor, Ajit Doval, asking for restrictions to be imposed on the use of equipment manufactured by Huawei and by all other Chinese majors.

The reason for wanting restrictions is the fear that India’s national security could be compromised by a company such as Huawei that, though private, could work with the Chinese government to intercept calls or remotely control networks. The background to the TEPC’s anxiety is that several other countries have imposed bans or restrictions on the use of Huawei’s 5G telecom equipment.

COAI’s Stance
For the COAI, these concerns are unfounded. In the letter, it says that ‘arbitrary exclusion of certain companies on hearsay may be detrimental to the overall digital communications aspirations of the nation”. It further adds that the DoT is competent to judge for itself ‘if there are any concerns in the Indian context and to put suitable measures to ensure the security of customers and that of the country is in no way compromised’.

While several countries have banned or restricted the use of Huawei’s 5G equipment, the DoT has given it permission to do trial runs for 5G which will begin in the first quarter of 2019. COAI has argued that in India the government has been working to keep telecom networks secure, with reviews of the security policy and the insertion of specific clauses into the licences to prevent any risk to network security.

A licence amendment in 2011 has mandated a security audit of the telecom networks, something which the DoT has been doing regularly. No equipment is allowed in the network without proper test certifications. Moreover, as part of the licensing conditions, the telecom service provider has to ensure that all equipment installed in the network is safe.

However, the Telecom Equipment Manufacturers Association of India backs the TEPC view. In a recent statement, it said the government should review buying equipment from Chinese companies to protect the national interest.

International Rejection
In the United States, the Pentagon recently ordered retail stores on U.S. military bases to stop selling Huawei and ZTE phones, citing the devices as a “security risk.”. The United States is pushing its allies to shut out Chinese tech giant Huawei’s 5G networks due to national security concerns as the high-speed technology is set to play a critical role in the 21st century.

Huawei has been excluded from providing technology for the core 5G network that’s being developed by U.K. telecoms firm BT (formerly British Telecom). After BT raised concerns about “chattering” Huawei hardware all the way back in 2005, the U.K. and Huawei created a Cyber Security Evaluation Centre known as “The Cell” so British cybersecurity experts could scour Huawei hardware and code for security risks. The project highlighted more than 100 security concerns in 2016 alone. Despite opening up its code for analysis with oversight from the likes of GCHQ, the Cabinet Office, and Home Office, The Cell remains suspect to many because its staff are employed by Huawei, not the British government.

Huawei is under fresh scrutiny in Australia. Huawei wants to bid to supply equipment for the country’s next-generation 5G mobile network, and the Australian government is mulling blocking it. All signs point to it being barred from participating in 5G in the country.

New Zealand have also banned Huawei from participating in building their 5G networks — the next generation of mobile technology expected to revolutionize the interaction of internet-connected devices and appliances. Japan, has also reported to stop buying Huawei and ZTE network equipment for government offices and its military forces.

Future Course
As the world gears up to roll out 5G, the next generation of wireless communication networks, Huawei Technologies is facing increased opposition from governments that are worried that its telecom equipment could be used by Chinese intelligence, something Huawei has always denied.

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