German ministers agree security law with high hurdles for suppliers

The Huawei logo is seen at the IFA consumer technology fair, in Berlin
FILE PHOTO: The Huawei logo is seen at the IFA consumer technology fair, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Berlin, Germany September 3, 2020. REUTERS/Michele Tantussi

December 16, 2020

BERLIN (Reuters) – German ministers on Wednesday agreed an IT security law setting high hurdles for makers of telecommunications equipment for next-generation networks, such as China’s Huawei.

While the law falls short of a blanket ban on using products made by the Chinese state-owned manufacturer in 5G networks, as demanded by the United States, it sets out circumstances under which individual components or entire companies can be banned.

Huawei’s critics say that close links to China’s security services mean that embedding it in the ubiquitous mobile networks of the future could give Chinese spies and even saboteurs access to swathes of essential infrastructure.

Huawei and the Chinese government reject these claims, saying that they are motivated by a protectionist desire to support non-Chinese rivals.

Huawei on Wednesday welcomed the new German law. “For the 5G networks this means that there are higher and equal security standards for all suppliers,” a spokesman said.

Under the law, a committee composed of representatives from the chancellery and the interior, economy and foreign ministries will be able to declare a supplier untrustworthy if it makes false declarations, does not support security audits or fails to report or patch vulnerabilities promptly.

A ban of any one supplier will also be possible after multiple breaches of the rules.

The law still requires approval by the Bundestag, Germany’s lower house of parliament.

(Reporting by Andreas Rinke and Nadine Schimroszik; Writing by Thomas Escritt; Editing by Alexander Smith)