The European Union is fearful that 5G networks could cause “security challenges” if they’re exposed to state-backed companies.
In a statement, the E.U. said that “security challenges” are likely to be more “prominent” on 5G networks, but did not single out any companies from China, including Huawei.
“Among the various potential actors, non-EU States or State-backed are considered as the most serious ones and the most likely to target 5G networks,” the E.U. said in the release.
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The U.S. has explicitly cited Huawei as the most serious threat and a state actor. Earlier this year, the U.S. government put Huawei on an entity list saying “there is reasonable cause to believe that Huawei has been involved in activities contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States.”
Earlier this year, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo testified before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee and warned about the “risk of having network systems co-located with Huawei systems.” And in April, former House Intelligence Committee Chair Mike Rogers spoke at a discussion hosted by the Heritage Foundation and described Huawei as “a functioning subservient enterprise to Chinese intelligence and defense services.”
Huawei, which is a leading supplier of 5G equipment, has caused concern among U.S. government officials, who say that depending on the Chinese company could increase exposure to security risks. The E.U. said more or less the same thing in their report without naming any names.
The promise of 5G is great but so are the risks
Upcoming 5G networks, expected to be more widely available across the U.S. in 2020, promise much higher speeds than 4G. In the U.S., major carriers such as Verizon and AT&T are doing limited rollouts in select big cities now.
For consumers, 5G is likely to bring a lot of technological advancements, including the potential to replace home Wi-Fi networks, smarter artificial intelligence on phones and self-driving cars, among other products.
Despite those potential benefits, the 33-page E.U. report says, “the likelihood of the supplier being subject to interference from a non-EU country…[and that] such interference may be facilitated [by the]…the third country’s legislation, especially where there are no legislative or democratic checks and balances in place.”
In order to level the playing field, the U.S. is moving to fund rival companies, according to a report from The Financial Times.
For its part, Huawei has denied any clandestine intentions. “There is absolutely no truth in the suggestion that Huawei conceals backdoors in its equipment,” a Huawei spokesperson said to Fox News earlier this year.