Thursday 27 June 2019 1:01 am

Blanket bans ‘not the answer’ to Huawei question, report warns

The UK must find a “compelling” risk management approach to Chinese tech firm Huawei rather than rolling out a blanket ban, according to a report published today.

Defence think tank the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) questioned whether it was realistic to ban all Chinese tech from UK national infrastructure, and argued the government should instead focus on managing risk.

Read more: US ambassador says letting Huawei access the UK’s 5G network like ‘letting a kleptomaniac into your house’

“The growing dominance of China in tech means that in many cases there will be a Chinese element present somewhere,” the report stated.

While bans on technology made by firms such as Huawei may be necessary, any restrictions should be done in a “thoughtful” way following a risk-benefit calculation, RUSI said.

US President Donald Trump has added Huawei to a trade blacklist amid concerns the firm’s technology could be used by Beijing for spying.

Uncertainty still remains around the UK’s approach to Huawei, though information leaked from a national security meeting earlier this year revealed the government is mulling a partial ban on the Chinese firm.

But the report warned the issue of 5G security had become highly politicised and argued that, in the age of global supply chains, the issue is “much broader than one company or one technology”.

In addition, RUSI argued that the debate around Huawei risked obscuring the wider issue of government policy on cybersecurity.

The think tank called for greater collaboration between the public and private sectors to raise cyber standards, and urged the government to capitalise on the country’s strong reputation for cybersecurity after Brexit.

The UK’s current £1.9bn cyber security strategy will end in 2021, raising questions about how the government will approach the issue of cybersecurity in the future.

Read more: China calls for explanation after Fedex blocks Huawei package

It comes after MPs warned the government has not done enough to protect the UK from the growing risk of cyber attacks.

The Public Accounts Committee said the Cabinet Office, which is in charge of the national cyber strategy, had failed to develop a business case for its programme.