A national signal on Data Protection Day
Today, is National Data Protection Day.
While such occasions are often good for getting conversations going on important issues, they are also a mere token.
However, today, of all days, it was interesting to see that the UK government has gone ahead and granted limited access to Huawei for its 5G networks.
Even with its designation as a “high risk” vendor, and restrictions to non-core infrastructure and less than 35% of periphery of the network, Huawei, is, nonetheless, in.
“This is essentially a thumbing of the nose at directives to abandon these vendors or face the consequences”
This is noteworthy for a few reasons.
Huawei’s technical competitiveness, if not superiority, in this field is fairly hard to argue with. Not to mention the fact that 5G builds very heavily on, and will be mixed closely with, exiting 4G networks. Hence, Huawei kit, especially in Ireland, is already part of the core infrastructure. And, it is cheap, which is never a bad thing.
Concerns over the security and fears of Chinese government interference are well founded, but no more so than with other western vendor kit, made in the far east and potentially falling under the reach of acts of legislation in the interest of national security.
But this is most noteworthy because it flies in the face of direct requests from the United States, often articulated by Secretary of States Pompeo, and the Trump administration in particular.
This is essentially a thumbing of the nose at directives to abandon these vendors or face the consequences.
Perhaps the new regime in Number 10 is flexing its muscles somewhat to appear less lapdog like in the run up to trade negotiations with the US, as a shape and progress on the Brexit deal has finally been achieved. It may yet be a bargaining chip to abandon the “high risk” vendors at a later juncture.
The UK has made a strong statement in making the allowance, and its reverberations will be listened for as carefully as trigger words in a clandestine SigInt listening post.