In an interview with The Mail on Sunday, Former MI6 boss Sir Richard Dearlove lambasted the UK government’s decision to allow Huawei to take part in the construction of Britain’s new 5G high speed internet network.
He claimed that Huawei’s involvement in a network allowing consumers to download films on their phones in seconds and enabling the development of sophisticated technology like self-driving cars and artificial intelligence could lead to security risks.
“[It could mean] you lose control of your robots as it were, maybe, to a foreign power,”
“In a crisis, they might be able to disrupt our national security communications,” the Mail quoted him as saying.
Sir Richard warned that Huawei could be ordered by the Chinese state to insert secret chips into the UK's 5G infrastructure that could be ‘triggered’ to disrupt British technology.
He claimed China was "very aggressive" in its intelligence gathering and even warned Britons against taking their normal phones on trips there, advising people going to China against taking their iPad or iPhone.
“I’d just take a throwaway phone,” the Mail quotes Dearlove as saying.
Dearlove has written the foreword for a Henry Jackson Society report that warns Huawei’s involvement could pose a national security risk.
The report maintains: “The possibility of Beijing weaponising its operational control of the UK’s national infrastructure in pursuit of its national goals in a form of state blackmail on a strategic and global scale cannot and should not be discounted.”
Report authors Tory MP Bob Seeley and ex-government adviser Professor Peter Varnish claimed smart antennae linked to software could lead to “physical areas of coverage being deliberately blanked out”.
Last month a leak from the UK security council's discussions led to reports in the Daily Telegraph about a plan to allow Huawei limited access to help build the UK's new 5G network.
The ensuing scandal resulted in the sacking of Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson.
The Sun quoted a Huawei spokesperson saying last night: “Any risks associated with 5G should be assessed against the facts.”
“The only way we could enact claims of this kind would be to install backdoors, which our founder has made clear we would never do, nor are we obliged to under Chinese law.”
“We encourage an evidence-based debate, not one based on unsubstantiated allegations backed up by zero evidence.”
“Huawei’s presence in the UK is subject to detailed, formal oversight, and we have strict controls for how Huawei is deployed,” The Sun quotes the UK government spokesperson as saying.