Global security officials – mainly from the US and Europe — have agreed a set of new proposals for 5G networks, highlighting concerns about telecom equipment supplied by technology vendors.
Their meeting did not name suppliers. But the United States has been pressing allies to limit the role of Chinese telecom equipment makers such as Huawei Technologies over concerns their gear could be used by Beijing for spying. Huawei denies this.
In addition to Huawei, telecom network makers including ZTE, Ericsson and Nokia supply 5G network equipment.
“The overall risk of influence on a supplier by a third country should be taken into account,” participants at the conference in the Czech capital said in a non-binding statement released on the last day of the two-day gathering.
Representatives from 30 European Union, NATO and countries such as the United States, Germany, Japan and Australia attended the meeting to frame an outline of practices that could form a coordinated approach to shared security and policy measures, Reuters reported.
Participating countries did not sign any documents in Prague because they had not concluded debates about the issue at home but called for participants to seize on the momentum moving forward.
China and Huawei were not part of the event.
EU members have until the end of June to assess cybersecurity risks related to 5G, leading to a bloc-wide assessment by Oct. 1. Using this, EU countries would have to agree measures to mitigate risks by the end of the year.
Huawei said it was ready to work with regulators and other stakeholders on creating effective rules.
“We are encouraged by the emphasis on the importance of research and development, open markets and competition, but would urge policymakers to avoid measures that would increase bureaucracy and costs and limit the benefit that 5G can bring,” it said in a statement.
“As the EU continues its deliberations, we firmly believe that any future security principles should be based on verifiable facts and technical data.”
The final document looked at the impact of 5G on policy, technology, economy and security, with general recommendations on how best to mitigate potential risks.
The security issue is crucial because of 5G’s role in internet-connected products ranging from self-driving cars and smart cities to augmented reality and artificial intelligence. If underlying technology is vulnerable, it could allow hackers to exploit products or disrupt them.
Europe — where Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, the Netherlands, Lithuania and Portugal are preparing to auction 5G licenses this year — has emerged as a battleground over Huawei’s next-generation technology.