‘Significant security risk’ stymies Spark’s Huawei 5G proposal

Where’s  John  Le  Carre  when  we   need   him?    He  would  revel  in the   storyline   which   lies  behind  the  statement  of  GCSB  director-general  Andrew  Hampton  this afternoon  that he has  informed  Spark NZ  “a  significant  security  risk was identified”.

Hampton went on to say he would be saying no more:

“As there is an ongoing regulatory process I will not be commenting further at this stage. The GCSB treats all notifications it receives as commercially sensitive”.

So what  was  he talking about?

Turn  to  a  statement  from  Spark. It  says it recently notified the Director-General of the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB), in accordance with the requirements of the Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Act 2013 (TICSA), of its proposed approach to implementing 5G technology on the Spark mobile network.

Specifically, this proposal involved the deployment of Huawei 5G equipment in Spark’s planned 5G Radio Access Network (RAN), which involves the technology associated with cell tower infrastructure.  The Director-General has informed Spark today that he considers Spark’s proposal to use Huawei 5G equipment in Spark’s planned 5G RAN would, if implemented, raise significant national security risks”.

Under TICSA, this means Spark cannot implement or give effect to its proposal to use Huawei RAN equipment in its planned 5G network.

Spark went  on  to  say  it has not yet had an opportunity to review the detailed reasoning behind the Director-General’s decision.  When it does complete its review, Spark will consider what further steps, if any, it will take.

“While we are disappointed with this decision, we are confident that the decision will not affect our plans to launch Spark’s 5G network by 1 July 2020, subject to the necessary spectrum being made available by the NZ Government.  Spark will not be making any further comment on this matter”.

Point of Order   can  only  speculate that  the  GCSB  has  been  receiving  solid  signals   from its  partners  in the  Five  Eyes  intelligence  network.

So where  does  this leave   those  who  have  been  defending  Huawei  as  a  global  leader   in the supply  of  telecommunications  equipment?

And, for that  matter,   where does it leave ministers in  the  Ardern coalition  government   who have  been contending  NZ   could   play  a  role  as   arbiter  in  the  trade   war  between China and the  US?



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