MPs Could Investigate Huawei UK Relationship With BT
Sir Malcolm Rifkind says the parliamentary security committee is considering whether to investigate Huawei’s UK operations
Huawei’s relationship with BT could be investigated by the parliamenary intelligence and security committee, according to its chairman, Sir Malcolm Rifkind.
Sir Malcolm told the Guardian that the committee is “reviewing the whole presence of Huawei in regard to our critical national infrastructure and whether that should give rise for concern.”
An investigation would make the UK the latest country to question the security of Huawei’s equipment and the company’s links to the Chinese military and could potentially delay the rollout of fibre and 4G services in this country.
It would also embarrass the government and Prime Minister David Cameron, who met with Huawei CEO Ren Zhengfei at Downing Street last month, pledging to invest £1.3 billion in the UK over the next five years.
Huawei UK investigation
The committee has been discussing the issue in private for some months and is considering whether or not to make some of its findings public. A report is due to be delivered to Cameron before Christmas.
“We are looking into the relationship that has developed between Huawei and British Telecom and the implications for the UK,” Rifkind is reported to have said. “We wanted to look at the historical background to that contract, to what extent there were security concerns at the time, whether and to what extent the British government were involved in these decisions, and whether there have been any causes for concern that have arisen since Huawei became involved in our telecoms infrastructure.”
Huawei received its big UK break from BT in 2005, supplying equipment to upgrade its copper broadband service and more recently its national rollout of fibre. The Chinese firm is also due to supply equipment for EE’s upcoming 4G network.
The company is due to open its new UK headquarters in Reading next April and has pledged to spend £650 million for its operations in the country and another £650 million in procurement. It has also vowed to increase its British workforce from 800 to 1,500 by 2017.
Earlier this week, the Canadian government threatened to invoke a “national security exception” that allowed it to act against international trade agreements, and discriminate against companies deemed to be too risky. The Canadian project in question is the construction of a network carrying government calls, emails and data centre services.
Huawei, along with fellow Chinese company ZTE, has challenged the findings of the Intelligence Committee of the US House of Representatives, whose report said that it couldn’t be trusted to be free of “foreign state influence” and that China has the “means, opportunity and motive” to use telecommunications companies for “malicious purposes.”
How well do you know Internet security? Try our quiz and find out!