Senior British official to vet Huawei-run centre

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 18 July, 2013, 9:57pm
UPDATED : Friday, 19 July, 2013, 1:45am

One of Britain's most senior security officials has been assigned to review a cybersecurity centre operated by Chinese company Huawei following concerns that the telecoms firm - which is playing an increasingly large role in Britain's Internet infrastructure - can't be relied on to police its own systems.

The government said yesterday that National Security Adviser Kim Darroch would review the workings of a Huawei facility known as "the Cell," intended to ensure the integrity of the company's products, which include routers deployed across Britain's fibre optic network.

Lawmakers on Parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee argued in a report that the Cell was set up too late and is too dependent on Huawei personnel to provide the oversight needed to ensure the system doesn't leave the door open to foreign spies. In recommendations published last month, the lawmakers suggested that Britain's eavesdropping agency, the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), staff the site, which is run at Huawei's expense.

In a six-page response to the committee's report, Prime Minister David Cameron's office said Darroch would look into the recommendations and report to the prime minister later in the year.

In a statement, Huawei said it welcomed the review.

Huawei signed a multi-billion pound deal in 2005 to supply BT Group, Britain's largest telecoms operator, as part of network upgrades.

Meanwhile, a parliamentary committee has cleared GCHQ of working with its US counterparts to bypass laws governing the collection of data about its citizens. It said allegations that GCHQ illegally assisted the US were "unfounded".