Britain will ban Huawei from deploying equipment designed to build out the country’s fifth generation mobile service, delivering a blow to the Chinese tech giant.
Britain Digital and Media Minister Oliver Dowden announced the decision Tuesday in the House of Commons, noting that the move will take effect in January. Unplugging from Huawei will likely delay the country’s 5G rollout by three years, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.
The country will slowly transition away from the company’s 5G components over the next seven years, Dowden stated.
President Donald Trump has done battle with Huawei in recent months, imposing an export control in May that cuts the company off from semiconductors necessary to build out technology. Experts believe 5G will help lay the groundwork for the so-called Internet of Things, a form of technology tying together virtually all appliances to the internet.
All member countries of an alliance called the Five Eyes—Canada, New Zealand, United States, Britain, and Australia—have now sworn off Huawei technology, The Washington Post reported. The Five Eyes represent the world’s most powerful intelligence community.
The U.K.’s move against Huawei comes after the country had previously supported the company’s buildout.
Britain initially allowed the company in January to supply and build 5G network infrastructure while denying it access to the government sites.
China reportedly spent $24 billion more than the U.S. on wireless communications infrastructure since 2015. The country also built more 5G towers in a three-month span in 2017 than the U.S. did in three years. There are also concerns that Huawei’s close ties to China leave the U.S. open to cyberattacks.
“This disappointing decision is bad news for anyone in the UK with a mobile phone. It threatens to move Britain into the digital slow lane, push up bills and deepen the digital divide. Instead of ‘levelling up’ the government is levelling down and we urge them to reconsider,” Huawei spokesman Chasen Skinner said in a statement to The Daily Caller News Foundation.
He added: “We remain confident that the new US restrictions would not have affected the resilience or security of the products we supply to the UK.”
Other Chinese-based companies are facing similar criticisms.
Democratic New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, for instance, asked the U.S. intelligence community in October to assess Chinese social media platform TikTok and its national security risks, saying that such apps could be used to spy on U.S. citizens or become targets of foreign influence campaigns.
TikTok promised to stop accessing users’ content on iOS devices in June, The Telegraph reported, after a new feature in iOS 14 indicated the app did not stop collecting data despite pledging to end the practice in 2019. Users noticed the app continued scanning content on the clipboard while in background mode, Telegraph reported.
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