U.K. Security Watchdog Said to Conclude No Huawei 5G Ban Needed

(Bloomberg) -- Britain’s cybersecurity watchdog has determined that the country can manage risks tied to using equipment from Huawei Technologies Co. in its 5G phone networks, according to people familiar with the matter.

The National Cyber Security Centre has found a blanket ban of the Chinese vendor from fifth-generation wireless technology won’t be necessary, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the deliberations are private.

The findings are another sign the U.K. may take a softer approach toward the Chinese tech giant than the full bans being pushed by the U.S. and imposed by Australia and New Zealand. That could complicate Britain’s relationship with its counterparts in the so-called Five Eyes security alliance, which includes the aforementioned countries and Canada.

The Trump administration argues the Chinese government could use Huawei’s equipment to spy, which the company has repeatedly denied. Governments across Europe are weighing possible restrictions, under pressure from the U.S.

Britain has been considering whether to block the company from 5G or keep managing it through dialogue and oversight. A British official, speaking on condition of anonymity last month, said a full ban was unlikely, and the U.K.’s spy chief said on Friday that barring Huawei might not be right.

The NCSC declined to comment on its conclusion about Huawei and reiterated concerns outlined in its annual report on the vendor from July. The watchdog’s next report, which is expected to reiterate criticisms of Huawei devices and software, will be published in the near future, the NCSC said in a statement.

The Financial Times earlier reported that the NCSC sees ways to limit the risks of using Huawei in 5G, without specifying, and attributed the information to unidentified people familiar with the matter.

Digital Secretary Jeremy Wright has the final say about the U.K.’s position regarding the Shenzhen-based company. His department is conducting a broader audit of the country’s telecom supply chain, including a policy approach to 5G, due to conclude in the coming weeks. No decisions have been taken, a spokesman for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said in an email.

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