Mark Goldberg

5G security as a form of corporate nationalism

Last Wednesday, President Trump declared a National Emergency and issued an Executive Order on Securing the Information and Communications Technology and Services Supply Chain. Although not mentioned by name, those of us who have been following the industry clearly understood that Huawei was the prime target of the directive prohibiting:

any acquisition, importation, transfer, installation, dealing in, or use of any information and communications technology or service (transaction) by any person, or with respect to any property, subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, where the transaction involves any property in which any foreign country or a national thereof has any interest

Terence Corcoran wrote about the Order in the weekend Financial Post in “Call a Trump ‘National Emergency’! America isn’t No. 1 in 5G!”. He observes that Canada has (so far) taken a calm and more “measured approach” to assessing and dealing with security risks associated with the implementation of 5G.

Ottawa is right to avoid jumping aboard Trump’s panic wagon over Huawei. The underlying American motives for declaring a telecom emergency include valid national security concerns, but the real driver of the anti-China and anti-Huawei campaigns is the very real possibility that America is not winning what Trump refers to as “the race to 5G.”

In the meantime, the move also targets Huawei devices, the latest of which (the P30 Pro) is regarded by some as having the best camera in a phone. A report from Reuters says Google has suspended some of its business with Huawei, such as access to updates to the Android operating system as well as popular apps such as Gmail, YouTube and the Chrome browser. On Sunday evening, Google issued a statement on its compliance with the Executive Order:

In response, Huawei has stated that it “will continue to provide security updates and after-sales services to all existing Huawei and Honor smartphone and tablet products, covering those that have been sold and that are still in stock globally.”

As Terence Corcoran writes, “the 5G security issues appear to be another form of old-fashioned corporate nationalism”; technology issues can be fixed, but not “the insistence on national industrial and economic dominance”.

Robert Hannigan, former director of Britain’s security agency, said recently that “blanket bans on Chinese tech companies make no sense.” If there are security risks, then solutions can easily be incorporated into British telecom networks — as surely they could be into American and Canadian networks.

If the U.S. wants to be No. 1 in 5G, it should be able to get there by competing, without knocking out other countries.

Olivera Zatezalo, Chief Security Officer at Huawei Canada, recently spoke to media in Markham during a company open house to showcase the company’s latest products and solutions. At that event, she stated: “Huawei believes that the establishment of an open and transparent security assurance framework will be conducive to a sound and sustainable development of the entire industry and technological innovation.” She added that Huawei has built, and plans to continue to invest in, end-to-end global cyber security assurance systems.

Olivera Zatezalo, and Dr. Wen Tong, CTO of Huawei Wireless, will be speaking at The 2019 Canadian Telecom Summit, taking place June 3-5 in Toronto.

Have you registered yet?

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