NZ GCSB denies facing US pressure to ban Huawei

By Dylan Bushell-Embling
Wednesday, 20 February, 2019

NZ GCSB denies facing US pressure to ban Huawei

The head of New Zealand’s Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) has denied being pressured by foreign governments to make his decision to prohibit mobile operator Spark from using Huawei equipment in its 5G rollouts.

During remarks to the parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee, GCSB director-general Andrew Hampton addressed the agency’s November decision to reject Spark’s 5G rollout proposal on national security grounds, due to the decision to use equipment from Chinese vendor Huawei in the proposed rollout.

Hampton said the decision was made after completing the first assessment for a proposed 5G rollout project under the Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Act framework. He added that the assessment had found “a significant network security risk”.

But Hampton denied the reports and speculation that the New Zealand government was facing pressure from its US counterpart to ban Huawei equipment from 5G rollouts due to the US government’s own purported national security concerns.

“I would like to assure the committee that in making my decision at no point was I under direct or indirect pressure from any party,” he said.

“My decision was independent from Ministers and while we share intelligence with Five Eyes partners, there was no pressure, requests or demands made by partners, either publicly or privately, to ban any vendor.”

He added that the regulatory process is still ongoing, and Spark is reviewing its options for appealing the decision.

Meanwhile, the Bureau’s National Cyber Security Centre responded to 347 cybersecurity incidents in the 2017–18 financial year, of which 134 contained indicators that they were linked to state-sponsored cyber attackers, Hampton said.

Image credit: ©Olivier Le Moal/Dollar Photo Club

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