GERMANY IS CONSIDERING a ban on Huawei and ZTE telecoms and networking hardware being deployed in upcoming 5G networks, according to Reuters.
The report claims that 'senior officials' are pushing for the ban amid national security concerns. Such a ban, if adopted, would follow on from bans already implemented in Australia and the US, and comes amid reports that Japan and the UK are also considering a no-go policy on Huawei and ZTE kit.
It comes just ahead of an auction of 5G spectrum in Germany, with a ban potentially affecting business cases and, hence, the sums they are willing to bid in the auction.
"There is a serious concern," one senior official told Reuters on condition of anonymity. "If it were up to me we would do what the Australians are doing."
Their concerns follow talks with counterparts in Australia and the US over their reasons for the blanket ban on Huawei and ZTE, and the baton has been taken up by opposition legislators in Germany's Bundestag.
"Excluding all investors from a certain country is the wrong approach," Katharina Droege, a Green Party member of the Bundestrag who co-authored a recent motion, told Reuters.
"But we need to be able to vet individual cases in order to ensure our critical infrastructure is protected. That could lead to the exclusion of Chinese firms from building our 5G infrastructure."
The concerns follow the passing of a National Intelligence Law by Chinese legislators in 2017, which obliges both organisations and individuals to "support, cooperate with, and collaborate in national intelligence work".
The fear is that such an all-encompassing law, especially one in a one-party state like China with no independent judiciary, could be used to compel any company operating in China - and its staff - to implement backdoors in IT equipment.
Last week, notes Reuters, The Australian newspaper claimed that Huawei staffers had been used by Chinese intelligence to obtain access codes to infiltrate a foreign telecoms network.
While China has threatened action against Australia over its ban on Huawei and ZTE, Mike Burgess, director general of the Australian Signals Directorate, claimed that installing equipment from the two Chinese communications hardware vendors could put at risk water supply and electricity grid systems. Even the security of autonomous vehicles and Internet of Things (IoT) devices could be compromised.
The new disclosures come just days after state-owned China Telecom was accused of abusing its privileged points-of-presence on internet backbones around the world in order to interdict and re-route traffic. µ
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