The Banbury operation of Chinese telecoms giant Huawei, is to be more closely monitored by GCHQ, the Government’s communications intelligence agency, to ensure its work does not compromise national security.
Following a warning earlier this year by The Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament (ISC) that Huawei’s involvement in the UK’s cyber communications infrastructure could pose a threat to national security, the firm set up the Huawei Cyber Security Evaluation Centre (HCSEC) – known as The Cell – in an attempt to allay security fears.
However on Tuesday a review was published by National Security Adviser Sir Kim Darroc stating GCHQ should take a direct role in all senior appointments to HCSEC.
The review also determined a senior member of GCHQ will chair a new oversight board which will review the work of HCSEC to ensure the body has sufficient independent powers of scrutiny.
HCSEC’s staff will however continue to be employed directly by Huawei.
Banbury MP Sir Tony Baldry said any attempt to regulate the firm’s activity would be an exercise in “balancing national security with the need to see trade with China prosper.”
He said: “The firm is at the cutting edge of technology and brings technology from a well-resourced overseas country.
“How does one ensure that on the one hand they can thrive, and on the other that national security is properly protected?
“Most mature countries are feeling their way towards how one protects oneself in these areas with a degree of sensitivity.
“Everything done by GCHQ would have to be lawful and accountable.”
Mr Baldry said clear evidence of the Government’s wish to co-operate closely with Chinese business was David Cameron’s recent visit to China accompanied by the largest ever British trade delegation.
No comment was available from Huawei when this article was posted but will be added when available.
Huawei is one of the largest telecoms firms in the world and set up its Beaumont Road office in Banbury in 2010.