Belgian security services call to restrict 5G technology

Belgian security services call to restrict 5G technology
In April 2019, U.S. President Donald Trump blacklisted and imposed sanctions on Chinese telecom giant Huawei. Credit:

Belgium's security services have classed the Chinese-led rollout of 5G networks at the second-highest security level, saying limits should be placed on technologies coming from "unreliable" operators.

"Our security services recommend protection level 4... limiting the use of parts of 5G technology that come from unreliable suppliers," said Telecom Minister Philippe De Backer said in parliament.

While the security services did not name names as to whom such restrictions would be imposed on, Chinese multinationals Huawei and ZTE are the leading providers of 5G technology.

There is widespread debate in Europe around the rolling out of 5G across the continent, particularly in the wake of U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to blacklist  Chinese telecoms giant Huawei in April 2019, arguing that the decision would help to prevent foreign-entities using American technology in ways that could potentially undermine U.S. national security.

A month previous to this decision by U.S. President Trump, Belgium's centre for cybersecurity found that there was no evidence to indicate that that telecoms equipment supplied by Huawei Technology could be used for spying.

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Where 5G in Europe is concerned, the European Telecom Council has outlined five security levels for the rollout of the fifth and newest generation of wireless technology.

The current security level in operation in Belgium is level 1; meaning that the market is allowed to operate free of any interventions or obstructions, De Morgen explains. In contrast, the highest security level, level 5, imposes a complete ban on the use of any 5G technology provided by non-reliable suppliers.

While the ultimate decision regarding the level of restrictions to be imposed on the operation of 5G technology in Belgium rests with the government, De Bracker has confirmed that security level four, meaning the implementation of restrictions on the use of technology by unreliable operators, is his preference.

It remains to be seen how Belgium will define unreliable operators.

Evie McCullough

The Brussels Times

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