back to article UK starts to ponder how Huawei ban would work

The British government has started a consultation to find ways to legally remove the equipment of telecoms giant Huawei from its 5G networks by the end of 2027. Proposals include asking full-fibre broadband operators to stop installing Huawei equipment affected by US sanctions. UK telecoms providers have already begun to …

  1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Why do you keep tip-toeing around the bush ?

    Just admit it : it's a sanction against China. Then go on living your lives.

    If you're so afraid of equipment from companies beholden to their government, then you only have one choice : make your network equipment a government institution and only use your home-grown equipment.

    Because Cisco is just as beholden to Washington DC as Huawei is to Beijing.

    Remeber what National Security Letters are for.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Why do you keep tip-toeing around the bush ?

      Yes but if you are a British govt trying to negotiate a trade deal with the USA to replace all those Eu customers, or find a way to solve an unsolvable Northern Ireland problem with a US president (who is constitutionally required to pretend he is Irish) or you are a UK based world leading chip designer trying to do a takeover deal with a US corporation.

      It's important that China can't spy on you

      1. Aitor 1 Silver badge

        Re: Why do you keep tip-toeing around the bush ?

        We need both the US and China, but more the US.

        The situation is ridiculous.

        1. gforce

          Re: Why do you keep tip-toeing around the bush ?

          Remember "a Xi in the hand is worth two Bidens in the bush"

        2. martinusher Silver badge

          Re: Why do you keep tip-toeing around the bush ?

          >We need both the US and China, but more the US.

          Not really. You might need the US for intangibles and weapons systems but not for everyday items. Practically everything you buy these days is either Chinese or has significant Chinese content.

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Re: Why do you keep tip-toeing around the bush ?

            But you need the US for all your exports.

            Hey London, suddenly all your banks don't have access to the US stock markets - you know for security.

            And Rolls Royce - the FAA says your engines are no longer approved for Boeing planes.

            China: Hey UK you aren't allowed to buy fake Apple earbuds on Aliexpress anymore

            1. Shalghar Bronze badge

              Re: Why do you keep tip-toeing around the bush ?

              But where do you stop ?

              Its not like only cheapskate stuff is manufactured in China. Siemens PLC components (not only the cheaper LOGO! but mid range S7 upwards), Beckhoff PLC, Phoenix PLC, Power supplies, almost every industrial component is manufactured in China.

              FoxConn does a lot more than just child labour Iphones. Going away from fully assembled stuff to components:

              Displays, car parts, electric parts, batteries of all kinds, capacitors, SMD components would be another target for bloomberg-bullshyte like that made up story about the spy chip on motherboards a while back.

              I do not know whats the situation in your vicinity but last time i checked, most of the corona gadgettery was also made in china - from tests over facemasks to IR thermometers.

              You are right,in one main point of course, the US grip on SWIFT/international banking is one factor that cannot be ignored. It might be interesting to see what the rest of the world thinks and does about that, once this specific blackmail is abused too often.

        3. Pascal Monett Silver badge

          Re: We need both the US and China, but more the US.

          Oh really ?

          Try buying something not made in the US. Not too difficult, I imagine.

          Now try buying something not made in China. Outside of food, you're going to have a hell of a ride.

          I think you need to rethink that statement.

    2. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Re: Why do you keep tip-toeing around the bush ?

      Yup.

      And why would we need any new legislation? HMG can already ban the import of stuff, and if it can't be imported, it can't be used. Seems a lot simpler than trying to craft new legislation. Plus if the political winds change, it's a lot easier to remove a company from a ban list than it might be from legislation.

      1. dafe

        Re: Why do you keep tip-toeing around the bush ?

        If it can't be imported, it can't be used.

        Except if it is already in use in much of the infrastructure, and someone wants it removed.

        1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

          Re: Why do you keep tip-toeing around the bush ?

          Sure, it gets a bit more complicated. So current plans are mainly aimed at removing Huawei from 'core' telco networks due to the perceived risk, eg banning use in national 5G networks. Or I think companies providing sensitive / classified networks. Defining when and where kit can & can't be used is a legislative challenge.

          If it's already in use, it's perhaps harder. But practically, if you can't import the tin, you can't really use it. You couldn't rely on supplies for expansion, upgrades or spares for maintenance. Which is also why telcos tend to be conservative with vendor selection. If you're designing a network to be in service for 10+ years, you want to be reasonably certain the vendor will be around that long.

          In practice, that doesn't always work out, eg Nortel & Marconi going titsup.com obviously created problems for their customers. Or sometimes politics gets in the way and creates supply shortages. So when the EU decided to ban lead solder, there were long delays and shortages while vendors altered manufacturing processes.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Why do you keep tip-toeing around the bush ?

            Huawei have been embedded in the UK infrastructure for the past 15 years. And will be for the next 5.

            It's all political posturing.

        2. Shalghar Bronze badge

          Re: Why do you keep tip-toeing around the bush ?

          "Except if it is already in use in much of the infrastructure, and someone wants it removed."

          Thats absolutely unproblematic.

          Just create another made up "security" or "environmental" guideline and certification that the unwanted devices cannot undergo (since they are already in place) and you´re done.

          Then in step two you enforce a rule that anything in the desired field of operation must have those certifications and you can even give some certification stickers for free to your preferred product manufacturers.

          Even if - by some strange coincidence - the wannabanned hardware somehow complies, you can still make a mandatory inspection at the production plant so unbearably demanding and impossibly difficult that although the hardware delivers whats demanded, the paperwork will say no.

          There is definitely no need to reinvent the wheel, much less so as the current project outline seems to show some vaguely triangular shape with the axis far away from anything in the middle.

          The real challenge might be to explain to the self perceived masters of the world that they got what they wanted - just named differently.

  2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "which is recognised as being among the most secure and trusted in the world."

    HMG probably doesn't want secure and trusted. They want something with back doors for them.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Facepalm

    The only end result of this will be higher prices for consumers

    Less competition isn't there?

    All thanks to 2 geriatric doddering old fart Presidents of the U.S. in an act of protectionism.

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: The only end result of this will be higher prices for consumers

      One good thing to come from this is the equipment might be sold to remote areas and undercut those bloody satellites!

  4. Yes Me Silver badge
    Flame

    Childish behaviour

    This is childish. It was childish when tRump started it and it was pathetic that the UK government toadied along. It's not as if the UK has any major companies that Huawei was beating up in the market. And GCHQ certainly knows that all the "back door" security accusations against Huawei were hot air.

    Why isn't this against WTO rules? It's nothing but a trade war with China (something the UK can scarcely need, after Brexit).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Childish behaviour

      You're right, but also because of brexit, we're even more dependent on the US than we were.

    2. Rich 2

      Re: Childish behaviour

      My understanding is that it’s not against WTO rules because National security interests trump them. (no pun intended)

      Mind you, China seems to completely ignore any WTO rules that are inconvenient to it - I read the other day that the US has made 27 complaints to the WTO about China and has won every one. Not that China will take any notice of course

    3. dafe

      Re: Childish behaviour

      It is not against the WTO rules because it benefits those who the WTO exists for.

    4. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Childish behaviour

      Actually, it was Australia that started it

      They postulated a scenario where Huawei "might" pose a threat. This was turned into a "reiable sources say" edict from the USA

      Vince Cable has explicitly admitted that GCHQ have repeatedly given Huaweai's kit a clean bill of health and the _only_ reason that Huawei is being banned is because the US government forced it

      News Stories on this:

      https://www.euractiv.com/section/politics/short_news/uk-banned-huawei-because-us-told-us-to-former-minister/

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0CnC_zLaf9I (China is peeved)

      and the actual admission:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g1mAxEoG2bo

      1. adam 40 Silver badge

        Re: Childish behaviour

        This is buggering up the proposed £100M Huawei optoelectronics chip fab in my village.

        It does seem rather unnecessary.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Childish behaviour

      I have seen Huawei kit spying on (in this case data storage) with my own eyes.

      I work for a large multi-national storage company and was asked to got to one of our customers in Emerging Africa who seeing a performance bump on their array when none should be happening in the late evening.

      Sure enough, there was something doing a 100% read workload on the array which we traced to a host.

      Looking at the perfmon stats on said host showed NO I/O to the array but looking on the array we could see there actually was.

      Further investigation showed that this host was basically reading all the new writes and sending the info to some IP address in China.

      Shutting the host down stopped the syphon but as soon as it was on (in the late evening) it would start syphoning again without registering on the OS.

      Spychip me thinks

      The host in question was a Huawei Server.

  5. _LC_ Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Who's the UK?

    Is that East America* that you're talking about?

    ===

    * East America, aka America's lap dog

    1. druck Silver badge

      Re: Who's the UK?

      I think you mean West Britain's thoroughly embarrassed parent.

    2. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Who's the UK?

      Interesting that the leader of East America had West American nationality until 2016, relinquished purely for tax reasons.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Who's the UK?

        But if he can re-apply he is eligible for Pritti-Rendition

      2. martinusher Silver badge

        Re: Who's the UK?

        For once Boris did the right thing. The US taxes you on world wide income no matter where you live but people like Boris who were 'accidentally American' just ignored it and the IRS ignored them. No harm, no foul. Then along came FATCA in 2014, a law that requires overseas banks to report deposits by US citizens -- or else risk serious penalties. The result is that if you are a citizen (or permanent resident) you have a lot of difficulty opening or owning bank accounts outside the US because banks just don't want to run the risk of running foul of US law.

        The obvious thing to do is to renounce your US citizenship, as Boris did. Unfortuantely for the mass of people this isn't an option because it requires a face to face interview (and about a thousand bucks) and consulates aren't doing this "because of Covid-19". Home governments aren't up to telling the US to go take a hike so a significant number of people are now in a sort of financial limbo. All in the cause of Freedom(TM), Democracy(R) and Good Governance, of course.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Stop

          Re: Who's the UK?

          > The result is that if you are a citizen (or permanent resident) you have a lot of difficulty opening or owning bank accounts outside the US because banks just don't want to run the risk of running foul of US law.

          Yes, and that's because any US citizen or permanent resident who has a pressing need to open a foreign bank account by traveling to a foreign country is more than likely doing so for US tax evasion purposes or money laundering, and not much else.

          Somehow you appear to view this restriction as a defect. Most people don't.

          If you have a pressing need to do business with a bank that doesn't mind being a laundromat, I can recommend a few banks in Panama.

          Please stop misrepresenting US tax policies re: foreign income.

          Yes, in theory, the US imposes federal tax on foreign earned income. However, that income is not taxed at the same rate as US-derived income.

          First: the individual standard deduction for foreign earned income is USD $108,700 per person, per year. That means: the first $108,700 earned in foreign income each year is tax-exempt.

          Second: for any foreign-earned income above $108,700, the double-taxation avoidance principle applies: a person earning foreign income can claim credit for all their foreign-paid taxes, including VAT. Given the high tax rate of EU (and most non-EU) countries, the foreign tax credit more than covers any US tax liability.

          The net result is that, for foreign income, US tax liability applies only to individuals earning massive amounts of money.

          In effect, foreign-earned income is tax-free in the US, although US tax law applies in theory.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Who's the UK?

            "Yes, and that's because any US citizen or permanent resident who has a pressing need to open a foreign bank account by traveling to a foreign country is more than likely doing so for US tax evasion purposes or money laundering, and not much else."

            Guilty unless proven innocent?

            What about all the Americans who work abroad?

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Facepalm

              Re: Who's the UK?

              > What about all the Americans who work abroad?

              Americans who work abroad don't need to travel from the US to the foreign country specifically for the purpose of opening a bank account. They are already present in that foreign country, Einstein. Because they will be there for a while. They will also have a long-term resident visa, work authorization, and a local address.

              Try opening a bank account anywhere without a local address. Well, except Panama, Turks and Caicos or Cayman Islands. It probably works there.

              Man, we're smart.

          2. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: Who's the UK?

            "Yes, and that's because any US citizen or permanent resident who has a pressing need to open a foreign bank account by traveling to a foreign country is more than likely doing so for US tax evasion purposes or money laundering, and not much else."

            Tell that to American Citizens living in foregn countries who need local bank accounts to do day to day living

            The requirements on banks are so onorous that most just washed their hands of Americans as not being worth the costs

            1. Anonymous Coward
              FAIL

              Re: Who's the UK?

              > The requirements on banks are so onorous [ ... ]

              If you can't spell the word onerous correctly, you shouldn't talk about bank regulations.

              > [ ... ] most just washed their hands of Americans as not being worth the costs.

              The costs of what? Taking their money?

              You have a very thorough understanding of how banks work. Keep up the good work.

    3. Michael Strorm

      Re: Who's the UK?

      I believe the favoured term is "Airstrip One".

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Who's the UK?

        That moved to Rammstein a long time ago. The UK is superfluous to USA's European ambitions

        1. Michael Strorm

          Perhaps you meant Ramstein?

          Isn't Rammstein better known as "Airstrip NEIN! (Ah) NEIN!"

  6. elaar

    What about the fact that 90% of FTTC edge equipment is Huawei based, or that at least 50% of Surgeries/Hospitals use Huawei for HSCN CPEs because it was a lot cheaper for the NHS? Are we ripping all of them out? Thought not.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Obviously government systems will be exempt because that would be expensive

      1. Shalghar Bronze badge

        "Obviously government systems will be exempt because that would be expensive"

        I am afraid this kind of reasoning would only apply if the cost had to be paid by everyone responsible for such an utterly dumb undertaking.

        I have never seen any government project that was rejected or stopped due to uselessness, exploding costs and non existing (functional) benefit (except for some private pockets).

    2. dafe

      What makes you think they won't?

  7. elsergiovolador Silver badge

    Security

    Huawei has always denied its gear contains backdoors or that it is beholden to the Chinese government.

    Well, per Chinese security law any citizen or "company" has to do what they are being asked to do by government. This means really any Chinese equipment can be compromised at any time, doesn't matter if Huawei or something else made in China.

    This whole effort seems like virtue signalling. If we really wanted a secure network, at very least all components should have been made in the UK, but due to various stupid policies this is of course impossible, so there you go.

    1. Shalghar Bronze badge

      Re: Security

      So why not order the hardware but do the software in house ?

      Should this not also apply to Cisco spyware and every potentially compromised hardware from wherever in the world, if this really were for security concerns ?

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Security

      Funnily enough, that applies under USA and UK security laws too

      Remind me how many explicit backdoors were found in cisco kit?

  8. ICam

    Hypocrites

    Yes, let's ban Chinese equipment based on security concerns, while spreading FUD about CSAM to eliminate E2EE.

    It all makes perfect sense, doesn't it?

  9. stiine Silver badge
    Alert

    Will the UK require all of the international standards bodies to kick Huawei out of their committees?

  10. batfink Silver badge

    What's the actual problem?

    You should always assume the transmission medium is compromised anyway. It doesn't matter whether it's some backdoor in the equipment or some tap along the wire somewhere or some other sigint interception - you should assume it's insecure and your security should be a layer on top of the medium. So, whether or not the alleged backdoor exist in the Huawei (or any other provider) gear is irrelevant.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What's the actual problem?

      Denial of service is a potential risk. Stopping communication on demand is just another method of attack, even if it doesn't yield any actionable data.

      But then if western produced equipment became compromised by a software hack, the end result is the same.

      Not sure anyone in government has any evidence to claim one is more likely than the other. Hence, it's all just posturing.

  11. Mark Exclamation

    "Huawei has always denied its gear contains backdoors or that it is beholden to the Chinese government."

    The Chinese government told them to say that.

    1. Dinanziame Silver badge
      Meh

      An important point is that nobody ever found such a backdoor either.

  12. M.V. Lipvig Bronze badge

    There are backdoors

    Absolutely there are, and they are in plain sight. Vendors have direct access to fiber gear, and use it to provide troubleshooting assistance. All it takes is a minor code change to provide an unlogged control session. And, the equipment is set up to allow circuit mirroring. In fact, the ability to mirror circuits is sold as a feature. You can send a circuit along two separate paths and if one loses data, the receiving side switches paths without dropping a single packet. If the Chinese government wants, all they need to do is order a circuit along the same path, then order Huawei to mirror the desired circuit over to theirs, and they get all the traffic sent. Of course, they'd need a way of decoding the traffic, but they'd have access to it. More valuable would be gaining access to cell phone traffic, because a lot of classified information can be gleaned from calls in the clear. Corporate espionage is the key here, because almost no corps require secure phones for discussing company business even when discussing classified information.

    Trying to make this into a political thing is stupid. Just because the case is being made by someone you politically disagree with does not automatically make it "stupid" no matter how snarky you speak about it. Too many people, including around here, make their decisions on stuff based on who says it, and refuse to acknowledge that yes, they may be right. In this case, Trump was right, Biden is right, Boris is right, and you pro-Huawei folks are wrong. Deal with it.

    1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Re: There are backdoors

      That's a bit of an assumption. Vendors can't always telnet into a device whenever they feel like it. It's long been best practice to secure control plane access to both internal & external users. As devices have become 'smarter', that's also become harder, eg vendors wanting connectivity for license checks, or software updates.

      Mirroring or cloning is also nothing new, or uniquely Huawei. It's been a requirement for supporting lawful intercept, or sometimes for troubleshooting service issues, ie cloning to a port with a network analyser connected.

      1. M.V. Lipvig Bronze badge

        Re: There are backdoors

        You mean vendors SHOULDN'T be able to telnet in. But, the links are there. The vendor can and does get in. The logons are logged, but there's nonreason why the guys who wrote the code to begin with can't include a means of unlogged access. It's not like the guys making decisions to buy, or the installers, are going to examine every line of code on the install or every subsequent update.

        I might add, I worked on this sort of equipment for several years, including Huawei fiber equipment. Anyone who thinks a vendor can't log in and mirror traffic to a second circuit without being caught does not know what they are talking about. Those thumbing me down are doing so for personal reasons, either political or financial, not factual. Whether you want to believe it or not, Huawei CAN get in and mess with/copy traffic on Huawei gear without customer knowledge, and Huawei WILL do so at the behest of the Chinese government. If not, the Huawei board will be replaced by pro-government people shortly after the existing board falls down in front of a pockmarked wall.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Pity the policy is rather limited.....

    Quote: "....to find ways to legally remove the equipment of telecoms giant Huawei...."

    .....which, thanks to old news from Edward Snowden, should also read like this:

    Rewrite: "....to find ways to legally remove the equipment of telecoms giant Cisco....."

    There......MUCH MORE SNOOPING removed from our lives!!!

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022