Financial News

  • 18 December 2013, 10:13

GCHQ To Monitor Huawei Amid Cyber Spying Fears

GCHQ intelligence officials will strengthen their oversight of a controversial Chinese telecoms giant engaged in supplying Britain's network amid fears that its equipment could be used for cyber espionage.

The Prime Minister's national security adviser has said that senior members of Britain's listening post should have a greater role at work being done at the Huawei Cyber Security Evaluation Centre, known as the Cell, which is based in Banbury, Oxfordshire..

Earlier this year the parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee warned that the involvement of Huawei in the UK's critical national infrastructure risked compromising national security.

Both US and Australian politicians have been critical of the firm citing its links to China's government and military.

The firm was founded by Ren Zhengfei, was a former officer in the People's Liberation Army, and has been banned from bidding for some US infrastructure contracts.

A review carried out by by national security adviser Sir Kim Darroch, concluded that GCHQ should in future "lead and direct" all senior appointments to the Cell.

A senior member of GCHQ will also chair a new oversight board monitoring the Cell's work and ensuring its continued independence from the firm.

However, the Cell's staff will continue to be employed by Huawei, despite the the apparent conflict of interest.

Huawei is now a major player in the UK telecoms sector following a multi-million pound deal to provide networking equipment to BT in 2005.

The Government has been apprehensive about imposing monitoring on the firm, despite concerns over national security, because of the risk of antagonising Beijing at a time when ministers are trying to boost trade links.

During his visit to China earlier this month, Mr Cameron broached the idea of establishing formal process of dialogue on cyber-security with Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang.

Huawei, which said it supported the recommendations made in the review.

In a statement it said: "Huawei shares the same goal as the UK Government and our customers in raising the standards of cyber security in the UK and ensuring that network technology benefits consumers."