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10/31/2019_Earlier this month Dutch media widely reported ( see f.e. https://nos.nl/artikel/2306081-huawei-mag-meebouwen-aan-5g-netwerken-in-duitsland.html the German government would not fully heed the risk analysis and advice of the EU agency for cybersecurity ( refer https://www.mijngroeve.nl/nl/geschiedenis/finally-the-eu-5g-risk-assesment/
The final risk analysis and decision for the 5G roll out is each individual member state’s responsibility ….The analysis report recommends that in the screening process of candidate suppliers of 5G equipment, consideration should not only be given to purely technical security aspects, but also to: “The likelihood of the supplier being subject to interference from a non-EU country. This is one of the key aspects in the assessment of non-technical vulnerabilities related to 5G networks. Such interference may be facilitated by, but not limited to, the presence of the following factors: a) a strong link between the supplier and a government of a given third country b) the third country’s legislation, especially where there are no legislative or democratic checks and balances in place, or in the absence of security or data protection agreements between the EU and the given third country c) the characteristics of the supplier’s corporate ownership…”
These were all implicit references to Huawei and China, a communist country that has no democracy and privacy laws and whose citizens and corporations are expected by law to cooperate at all times with Chinese intelligence services to protect its national security. Should we expect a Chinese company will handle our data running through or stored on their 5G equipment with integrity?
Merkel in particular was / is reportedly very reluctant to make a political judgement of the reliability of 5G equipment suppliers a formal part of the assessment procedure. She fears – along with Dutch Prime Minister Rutte- such an explicit governmental stance will seriously damage trade relations with China. So her position has been that Germany is country-neutral with respect to the 5G roll-out: each 5G equipment provider must meet the renewed, stricter security requirements, which is essentially a technical story. Companies that would like to compete for the 5G roll out will have to meet the specified technical security tests and conditions and sign (and adhere to) a confidentiality & reliability statement, according to Merkel. If it would turn out during the final screening process candidate companies are found guilty of sabotage or espionage practices, they could still be excluded from participation in the roll-out ….
An increasing number of deputies in the German parliament have started to protest over the past 2 weeks. It was announced yesterday that under this Bundestag pressure and as a result of growing unease in the German intelligence services, the German cabinet is shifting its position. Foreign Affairs minister Maas (SPD) and his colleague Seehofer (CSU) of the Ministry of Internal Affairs have agreed on a further adjustment of the security provisions in the tendering of the 5G network: in their view there should be a check of the political reliability of suppliers, according to the German publication Handelsblatt.
Nils Schmid, spokesman for foreign affairs of the SPD, one of the ruling government parties in Germany: “It’s good the Ministery of Internal Affairs has finally concluded a political assessment of the risks involved in the 5G roll out is indispensable. Now the government has to clearly indicate if the position of the Interior Minister is a unified government policy”. CDU representative Christoph Bernstiel added: “The declaration of the Ministry of Interior is a step in the right direction.. but crucial will be the final position of chancellor Merkel and the whole German Parliament on this important decision for the future.”
This German news will also have reached the ears of Dutch Prime Minister Rutte. And the parties in Dutch parliament. Will our Prime Minister make a U-turn too and demand political reliability to become formal part of the security assessment procedure of 5G suppliers? Local concerns in the Netherlands (see https://www.mijngroeve.nl/history/city-council-of-rotterdam-would-like-to-ban-huawei-amsterdam-to-follow/) and American pressure to shun Huawei have been growing …. . Knowing Rutte, he will aim for a compromise in which the political assessment will not be formally included in the judgement procedure, but can be implemented informally, also at the local level … no doubt he will propose more creative wording than I can come up with here…. in other words…to be continued….