Fake News, Disinformation as threats to National Security and Possible SolutionsJanuary 29, 2020
National Investigation Agency (Amendment), Bill 2019March 7, 2020
An enormous scrimmage is going on between the Western world and China for years and doesn’t seems to be end soon. Going through all these troubles, Chinese telecom companies is now facing a concerted counter-action from the West. The United States, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and the Czech Republic, among others, have forced confinements on the utilization of Huawei’s 5G arrangements over national security concerns. Primarily, the stress among the countries is established in the ties between Huawei and Chinese intelligence administrations, strengthened by China’s political and lawful condition requiring participation with such intelligence agencies in the peace time or at the time of distress.It is indeed true that the nature and the capability of Huawei’s 5G equipment is well recognized. However, the danger of various unexpected vulnerabilities that can be abused by certain vindictive agents should also be figured into the calculation. India, being the developing county has concerns regarding cost and technological aspects, but at the same time national security is also of vital. Thereby the fundamental concern is that whether India should ban Huawei to operate in 5G equipment as done by various countries.
Huawei and its Alleged Distraught Past
Acts of Spying: The Chinese company i.e. Huawei has been accused for industrial espionage again and again in the 2003 Cisco case and the 2014 T-Mobile claim and of proceeded with infringement of international economic authorizations against Iran and North Korea, As a matter of fact, Huawei has already been closed out of the US Market after a 2012 report of the US House Intelligence Committee which had inferred that Chinese possessed Huawei and ZTE were a national security risk as its hardware and equipment could intercept communications in the US and to their connections to the Chinese government.
In 2016, the US Commerce Department inferred that the company turn over all data of the export or re-export of American innovation and technology to Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan and Syria. The company was not explicitly blamed for any bad behavior, however its littler counterpart ZTE confessed to breaking US laws and was fined $ 1.19 billion. In January 2018, US huge AT&T dropped the deal to sell Huawei’s new cell phone Mate 10 which was company’s edge cutting product. The company is as of now at the focal point of misrepresentation, fraud and intellectual property theft examinations and investigations in the US.
Huawei’s reclusive founder was once a member of the PLA: In the ascent of Huawei, the Chinese telecom giant, has been eye-catching and from the beginning it has been hounded by the charge that its reclusive founder Ren Zhengfei was at one time a member from the PLA i.e. The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) which is the armed forces of the China, founding and ruling by the Communist Party of China (CPC). It is also termed as potential military superpower and the world’s third-most powerful military.
Moreover, as per Article XXI of the WTO GATT, security exception allows a party to take action or measures “which it considers necessary for the protection of its essential security interests.” Hence, Huawei from their 5G network plans got excluded by all of the “Five Eyes” countries i.e. US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Even, Japan had also banned Huawei from getting contracts with their government.
Chinese law against national security of other nations: Another more concerning issue is in the form of a Chinese law, made by the National People’s Congress in November 2017, that commands the collaboration of Chinese people and entities in the intelligence work of the state. Article 7 of the National Intelligence Law of the People’s Republic of China states that “All organisations and citizens shall, in accordance with the law, support, cooperate with and collaborate in national intelligence work.” Thus, it is against the national security of other nations.
How Huawei Can do Good
Technological Advantage: Huawei has played a vital role in the development and expansion of global 5G standards. At present, China holds approximately 10% of 5G essential manufacturing property rights in radio access solutions in which Huawei specifically has the most such patent rights. Moreover, china has influence over global telecom standard organizations such as 3G Partnership Project, ITU, etc. as the prominent positions in these organizations are held by Chinese representatives. The significant progress of the worldwide technological market power of Chinese companies including Huawei is fundamentally a result of engrossed governmental policies for telecom industries and convoying finance sources.
Affordable Pricing:Similar to its technological advantage,Huawei’s equipment is the key to provide telecom services which may cost lowest in the world. Its cheap price seems to be aconsequence of China’s domestic policy rather than its technological preeminence. Cost efficacy has helped Huawei to put more deals on the table since its tools &equipment is considered as 20-30% more economical than the other companies’ deals.
Assessment Centers: In order to convince UK governments and intelligence agencies that its operation is not a threat to national security, Huawei had an arrangement of Cyber Security Evaluation Centre (HCSEC) which is an autonomous security testing lab. Its entire cost is borne by Huawei. Such kind of arrangement can also be seen in Germany and Brussels to give air opportunity to evaluate product comprising the source code. Thereby it generally denotes itself as the “most audited technology company in the world”.
Categorically rejecting all the accusations:As discussed, there are various allegations against Huawei for espionage, intercepting communications, ties with Chinese government, etc. However,it has contended that it never used its technology to scout on or sabotage other states. It asserts that its shares are hold by its employees and not owned by any government. It has an untainted business mindset as it has not only engaged itself in the segment of telecom equipment manufacturing, but also in R&D. It has also denied that it has ever facilitates, any customer information to any organization.
Should India allow Huawei to operate in 5G equipment?
India has allowed Huawei to join in trials of 5G networking equipment notwithstanding of certain reservations. Time and again, Indian organizations have highlighted various alarms for using Chinese telecom equipment in Indian telecom networks.
For India, on one hand, the element of danger concerning national security is ominously complex as it has had prolonged border issues with China. Further, the founder of Huawei Ren Zhengfei is a former member of the PLA. Furthermore, Huawei has been suspect by India of apparently hacking in its networks numerous times. However, on the other hand, Indian telecom industry have identified that Chinese networking equipment is of vital importance to provide services which can costs the lowest in the domain. The major reason for India to opt for Huawei can be its unbeatable price and property rights of 5G manufacturing technology.
India has no evident reason to instinctively restrict Huawei from its own 5G networking plans.India is a country whose 90 % of telecom equipment is imported. Thereby, there are constantly concerns pertaining to overseas surveillance, whether it is China’s Huawei or Sweden’s Ericsson. Since India at present, cannot rely only on domestic production, the viable and practical solution is to verify& test security concerns of the imported telecom equipment. Such security test can alleviate the risks and implant self-assurance of national security. There is a need to have a strict regulation at the domestic security front. With this regard, The Indian Telegraph (Amendment) Rules 2017 provides that prior to sale or import of telecom equipment in India,compulsory assessing and certification is required. This should be done as per the Mandatory Testing and Certification of Telecom Equipment (MTCTE) rules of the Telecom Engineering Centre (TEC).Also, Huawei has played an active role in India for decades by setting up an R&D center in Bengaluru in 1999 with approximately 4,000 engineers involved in pioneering software in evolving technologies. Therefore, India’s verdict to permit Huawei to tender for India’s 5G network development, continues investments in manufacturing of telecom equipment and indulge in R&D ensures Indian’s own national interest.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR(S)
Tanuj Agarwal is a 3rd year law student at Institute of Law Nirma University, Ahmedabad.
Jaskaran Singh Saluja is a 3rd year law student at Institute of Law Nirma University, Ahmedabad.
In content picture credit: sim-unlock.net