German officials talking to the Wall Street Journal say the country has made a "preliminary decision" to let Huawei bid on contracts for 5G networking despite US pressure to ban the Chinese company. A cybersecurity agency investigation didn't show evidence that Huawei could steal data through its wireless equipment, the officials said, even though the country had US help. It also couldn't find proof that Huawei had done anything wrong, and conversations with the US and UK over potential security holes were ultimately "inconclusive." Political leaders are expected to discuss the decision on the night of February 19th. There's no guarantee Huawei will receive the greenlight, though.
The secretary general of the UN's internet and telecoms agency has suggested US concerns about 5G networks built using Huawei equipment have more to do with politics and trade, rather than legitimate worries over security. "There is no proof so far," Houlin Zhao, head of the International Telecommunication Union, said regarding claims about Huawei's security. He noted it's in telecoms' best interests to make sure their infrastructure is secure as they might otherwise feel the wrath of authorities. "I would encourage Huawei to be given equal opportunities to bid for business, and during the operational process, if you find anything wrong, then you can charge them and accuse them," Zhao said, according to Reuters. "But if we don't have anything then to put them on the blacklist -- I think this is not fair."
The UK's decision to allow Huawei gear in its 5G networks may be short-lived. Officials talking to the Financial Times (via The Verge) say the UK government is planning to gradually phase out use of Huawei equipment in 5G networks, eliminating it entirely in 2023. According to the Daily Telegraph, which first broke the story, Prime Minister Boris Johnson always had "serious concerns" about allowing Huawei's involvement, and they've been exacerbated by the pandemic. Huawei's Victor Zhang told the FT that the reports "simply don't make sense" and argued that the UK chose to allow Huawei because it needed the "best possible technologies, more choice, innovation and more suppliers." Such a move would please the current US government, which has insisted that Huawei could serve as a conduit for Chinese surveillance.
The US may have had some success in persuading allies to ban Huawei equipment from their 5G networks, but not everyone is convinced there's an existential threat. Financial Times sources claim the UK's National Cyber Security Centre has found that it can limit the risks of using Huawei gear in 5G deployments without banning it entirely. This could include using a variety of suppliers and restricting some parts of 5G networks. You might not hear about these findings for a while. A Digital, Culture, Media and Sport department spokesperson told the FT that the review of 5G security was "ongoing" and that talk of any definitive decisions was "inaccurate."
One Huawei employee, identified in the indictment only as "R.Y," wrote in a January 2013 email to Huawei China that, "Once again, we CAN'T ask TMO any questions about the robot. TMO is VERY angry the questions that we asked. Sorry we can't deliver any more information to you." The employee suggested Huawei China send its own engineer to the Seattle lab.