Paul Rikk, Estonia’s national cybersecurity policy director, said the country’s 5G network shouldn’t be equipped with Huawei equipment, according to a Sept. 13 article by Estonian news site Delfi.
“We need to make sure that the manufacturer is reliable and the management of the company is transparent and is not driven by political goals,” said Rikk, the leader of a task force set up by the country’s Ministry of Foreign Trade and Information Technology to develop a trust policy on IT equipment.
He added, “The issue is not so much the quality of Huawei hardware and software, but whether these devices can be used for political purposes in the future.”
Estonia took into consideration security concerns from the United States and “other NATO allies” about Huawei, Rikk said.
“Because Estonia is a NATO member and our defense is based on a collective defense logic. If one NATO member sees communications technology as a threat, then we take that concern very seriously,” he added.
The U.S. government has been warning Western countries about the security risks associated with Huawei equipment, particularly in the realm of 5G, as the technology is set to be used in critical infrastructure.
On May 15, the U.S. Department of Commerce added Huawei and 68 affiliate companies to its “Entity List,” effectively banning U.S. firms from doing business with them, unless granted special government approval. In August, 46 additional Huawei affiliates were added to the blacklist, which included those operating in Argentina, Australia, Belarus, Costa Rica, France, Italy, Mexico, and Portugal.
According to the Delfi report, the Estonia task force is consulting with the country’s three major telecom providers: Elisa, Tele2, and Telia. For 5G testing, Elisa is known to have worked with Huawei, while Tele2 has cooperated with Finnish telecom firm Nokia, and Telia has joined with Swedish firm Ericsson.
Elsewhere in Eastern Europe, the United States has also sought to dissuade governments from adopting Huawei networks.
On Sept. 2, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki signed an agreement to cooperate on 5G in Warsaw. The agreement called for the protection of networks in both countries from “disruption or manipulation,” although it didn’t identify Huawei or any other Chinese company by name.
On the same day, Marc Short, Pence’s chief of staff, called on other nations to shun Huawei.
“We must stand together to prevent the Chinese Communist Party from using subsidiaries like Huawei to gather intelligence while supporting China’s military and state security services—with our technology,” Short said in a statement.
Meanwhile, in India—the world’s fastest growing smartphone market—two major telecom operators, Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel, have decided not to team up with Huawei in their 5G trials. Jio has teamed up with Samsung instead, while Airtel has finalized agreements with both Ericsson and Nokia, according to a Sept. 14 article by India’s English-language daily Business Standard.
The Indian government hasn’t officially announced whether it will ban Huawei. In June, India’s telecom minister Ravi Shankar said that six companies, including Huawei and another Chinese telecoms firm, ZTE, submitted proposals for 5G trials, according to India’s English-language Economic Times.