Mere days after the US petitioned its allies to ban the use of Huawei’s equipment over security concerns, New Zealand has blocked a telco from doing so.
The operator, Spark, posted a statement today claiming the Director-General of the Government Communications Security Bureau rejected its request to use Huawei’s 5G equipment.
In the statement, Spark wrote:
“The Director-General has informed Spark today that he considers Spark’s proposal to use Huawei 5G equipment in Spark’s planned 5G RAN would, if implemented, raise significant national security risks.
Under TICSA, this means Spark cannot implement or give effect to its proposal to use Huawei RAN equipment in its planned 5G network.”
Spark says it’s reviewing the reasoning and will consider if further steps are required.
Whether the US’ petitioning had anything to do with the Director-General’s decision is unknown, but the timing feels somewhat coincidental.
The US has long maintained Huawei poses a national security threat due to its ties with the Chinese government. There’s a belief that, under Chinese law, Huawei would be forced to assist its government with espionage if requested – a claim the company has repeatedly denied.
Huawei says it is “shocked by the behaviours of the US government detailed in the article. If a government’s behaviour extends beyond its jurisdiction, such activity should not be encouraged.”
New Zealand was the final holdout of the ‘Five Eyes’ security partners – which also consists of the US, UK, Australia, and Canada – in forming its stance on Huawei. Today’s ban sounds like New Zealand will be taking a similar approach to the US and Australia.
The UK and Canada, meanwhile, have maintained their system of having Huawei’s equipment checked by national security agencies is safe and ensures continued access to innovative equipment.
Defending its decision not to ban Chinese equipment, the head of Ottawa’s Canadian Centre for Cyber Security claimed doing so would actually pose an increased security risk as it reduces the myriad of vendors used. If a specific vendor is compromised, it would represent less of the overall network.
Huawei’s equipment is currently in use around the world, including many European countries. However, officials have increased concerns about 5G networks due to their expected use for critical applications such as driverless cars, smart cities, and even remote surgery.
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