#Privacy: UK close to allowing Huawei into “non-contentious” parts of 5G network development

The Sunday Times has reported that the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson may allow Huawei to develop the non-critical parts of the country’s 5G network. 

This move will come as a relief for UK carriers, as all four of the UK’s largest carriers (EE, Three, O2 and Vodafone) are understood to be already using Huawei equipment in their 5G networks. 

On the other hand, the development may put the UK on a collision course with America, after the country clamped down on Huawei earlier this year amid speculation that the company poses a threat to US security.

In May 2019, US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo stressed the need for the US to protect its UK operations from “security risks” stating:

“The US has an obligation to ensure that places where we operate, places where American information is, places where we have our national security at risk, that they operate inside trusted networks and that is what we will do.”

As of yet nothing has officially been confirmed, however it should be noted that these developments does not come as a surprise, as former UK Prime Minister Theresa May was in support of the Huawei 5G infrastructure plan. 

Early this year, May had held discussions with the National Security Council surrounding Huawei working on the UK’s 5G mobile network – a decision which resulted in backlash from ministers, and the defence secretary, Gavin Williamson being sacked after allegedly leaking the discussions. 

The Sunday Times wrote that according to a senior Whitehall source, the UK government had observed some of Huawei’s technology not being available off the shelf in the West, which could leave the UK behind if it does not do business with the company.

“There isn’t a good substitute for some of the new technology in the West. The decision is going the same way.

“The reality is that if you don’t say yes, you don’t have alternatives. The West has screwed up by allowing Huawei to develop a near monopoly in this area,” the source said.

An official decision on whether Huawei will be used to develop the network is expected before Christmas. Within the next five weeks ministers are expected to formalise the ruling.

“Based on the current thinking, Huawei will be allowed to help build the 5G network here but their operations will continue to be closely watched.”

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