Wed, Mar 13, 2019 - Page 10 News List

US warns Germany that a Huawei deal could hurt intelligence sharing

TOO RISKY:Germany’s potential use of Huawei gear could ‘jeopardize nimble cooperation’ on which many EU nations rely to learn about terror and other threats

AFP, BERLIN

The US on Monday warned Germany about future “information sharing” if it uses “untrusted vendors” in its 5G telecom infrastructure amid debate over whether Chinese IT giant Huawei Technologies Co (華為) is an espionage risk.

US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell on Friday last week sent a letter to German Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Minister Peter Altmaier warning that in such a case the US could scale down intelligence and other information exchanges, the Wall Street Journal reported.

A US embassy spokesperson said they would not comment on diplomatic communications, but added that the government’s position on 5G network security was well known.

“To the extent there are untrusted vendors in the networks of an ally, that could raise future questions about the integrity and confidentiality of sensitive communications within that country, as well as between that country and its allies,” the spokesperson said. “This could in the future jeopardize nimble cooperation and some sharing of information. We are engaging intensively with our allies on how to secure our telecommunications networks to ensure continued interoperability.”

Altmaier confirmed he had received the letter, but said he could not comment on its content, adding: “We will respond quickly.”

Germany, like other EU countries, has relied heavily on US intelligence on terror and other threats.

The US and several other Western nations, fearful of the security risks posed by the company closely tied to the Chinese government, have shut Huawei out of tenders for the development of 5G infrastructure.

The Chinese telecom giant has denied the espionage allegations.

Germany, anxious to not get sucked into the maelstrom of an ongoing US-China dispute over a multitude of issues including trade, has taken a cautious stance on the issue.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said it was necessary to talk to Beijing “to make sure that the company does not simply give up all data that is used to the Chinese state, but that there are safeguards.”

Some measures in the works include adding a non-spying clause, a requirement to publish code sources used in the infrastructures and allowing independent laboratories to carry out tests on the components used.

Huawei has become a leading supplier of the backbone equipment for mobile networks, particularly in developing markets, thanks to cheaper prices.

Germany has seen its mobile infrastructure lag behind, with most Germans having access only to 3G.

The 5G network is meant to be 100 times faster than 4G and is viewed as the next major step in the digital revolution that makes data transfers almost instantaneous.

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