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Technology / Cybersecurity

UK committee criticises government over Huawei-BT agreement

A new report from the UK Intelligence and Security Committee has revealed a number of weaknesses in the country’s approach to investment in the Critical National Infrastructure (CNI), citing China’s Huawei Technologies deal with BT.

The report notes, "The Government’s duty to protect the safety and security of its citizens should not be compromised by fears of financial consequences, or lack of appropriate protocols."

"However, a lack of clarity around procedures, responsibility, and powers means that national security issues have risked, and continue to risk, being overlooked."

The committee criticised the deal between BT and Huawei, which was signed in 2005, under which the Chinese firm agreed to supply equipment to BT.

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The report found that the process for considering national security issues when Huawei first became established in the UK in 2005 was insufficiently robust and the committee was shocked that officials chose not to inform, let alone consult, Ministers on such an issue.

The report said: "We are not convinced that there has been any improvement since then in terms of an effective procedure for considering foreign investment in the critical national infrastructure."

It added that the difficulty of balancing economic competitiveness and national security had resulted in a stalemate, which is unacceptable.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Huawei issued a statement saying it was willing to work with all governments in a completely open and transparent manner to reduce risks to cybersecurity.

"We have always committed to creating value for the economy, working closely with the U.K. government and our customers…to meet their requirements," the company said.
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