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?