In a rare letter addressed to the House of Commons, U.S. lawmakers, led by Sens. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Ben Sasse, R-Neb., urged the United Kingdom to “revisit its recent decision, take steps to mitigate the risks of Huawei, and work in close partnership with the U.S. on such efforts going forward.” The letter accused Huawei of helping China’s “intelligence-gathering” activities and argued that the U.K. would be unable to moderate the corporation’s risk to consumer privacy.
MSN – Prime Minister Boris Johnson faces a growing rebellion from leading members of his Conservative Party over the decision to allow Huawei Technologies Co. to help build the U.K.’s next-generation telecommunications networks. Former party leader Iain Duncan Smith led a chorus of prominent Tories demanding the government commit to reducing the Chinese company’s involvement in 5G networks to zero by 2023 and said failing to do so would be like allowing the Nazis to build Britain’s national radio system during wartime.
The 5-Eyes is an anglophone intelligence alliance comprising Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. These countries are parties to the multilateral UK-USA Agreement, a treaty for joint cooperation in signals intelligence. The origins of the 5-Eyes can be traced back to the post–World War II period when the Atlantic Charter was issued by the Allies to lay out their goals for a post-war world.
The issue of course is, if Huawei is allowed to be part of any integral network infrastructure in the UK, will the Chinese have a hidden backdoor tunnel into UK’s network data (voice, data, and metadata)? And hence into the entire 5-Eyes system. This could be devastating in terms of privacy into negotiating with the Chinese on any trade deals, the battle against terrorism, political manipulations, as well as geopolitical security.
Then there is the issue of key technology blockages. If the UK would have too much reliance on Huawei, the Chinese could have in effect veto power over the UK on a wide variety of issues. Do you think this can’t happen? It already has.
Apple shareholders recently defeated a proposal critical of its removal of apps at the request of the Chinese government, but the proposal drew a much higher proportion of votes than similar proposals in previous years which had gained support only in single-digit percentages. The proposal had called on the iPhone maker to report whether it has “publicly committed to respecting freedom of expression as a human right.” Shareholders defeated it, with 59.4% voting against and 40.6% voting in favor. In a sense, Apple cratered to the demand of the Chinese.
The Trump administration has made it very clear and voiced their concerns over Huawei as well to the UK. “If a country adopts this [Huawei technology] and puts it in some of their critical information systems, we won’t be able to share information with them, we won’t be able to work alongside them,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said last February. “In some cases there’s risk – we won’t even be able to co-locate American resources, an American embassy, an American military outpost.”
Let’s hope Prime Minister Boris Johnson comes to his senses and considers this decision very carefully. In any case, it is good to see the Trump administration has a keen eye on issues like this to keep us safe. One has to wonder if another president would be up to speed to even understand the issues at stake.