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Defence Committee launches 5G security Sub-Committee

Following the government's decision to exclude Huawei technology from the most sensitive parts of the UK's 5G network, the Defence Committee has launched a Sub-Committee to inquire into the security of the UK's 5G network.

5G is the next generation of mobile communications technology and is expected to offer faster mobile broadband connections and the ability to connect a greater number of devices online. However, there are several challenges associated with 5G rollout, chief amongst these are concerns overs the security of 5G networks.

Concerns have been raised in Parliament, relevant industries, academia and by the press regarding the use of equipment in 5G networks that has been supplied by foreign companies, focusing on Chinese telecoms supplier Huawei. This is predominantly because of the extent to which Chinese law could compel the company to assist the State's intelligence services.

Although the UK's National Security Council made the decision to exclude Huawei technology from the most sensitive parts of the UK's 5G network, it has allowed it to supply peripheral components such as mobile phone masts and antennae.

The Defence Committee will now consider whether their are additional the risks to the UK's 5G infrastructure and how they can be mitigated, as well as the role of government in 5G cyber security. Regarding Huawei, the committee will ask to what degree is it possible to exclude Huawei technology from the most sensitive parts of the UK's 5G network while allowing it to supply peripheral components, as well as what credible alternatives are available to Huawei systems.

Tobias Ellwood, who chairs the Defence Committee, said: “5G is the next generation of wireless technology and, although an exciting opportunity for the UK to strengthen its digital infrastructure, it is critical that we have a full understanding of the security implications.

“Once introduced, 5G will fast become an unextractable, indispensable part of our infrastructure as a country. It is paramount that, as we negotiate this new technology, we ask the uncomfortable questions about the possibility of abuse by foreign parties. We will work to understand the legitimate concerns around the government's decision to allow Huawei to contribute to the 5G network in the UK. A decision of this magnitude must be made with eyes wide open, and we will not shy away from tackling the public's concerns head on.”

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