• Reading Level 5
Geography | Design & Technology | Citizenship | PSHE

Security fears haunt decision on 5G deal

Should Britain be doing business with Huawei? Many believe that the Chinese telecom giant cannot be trusted to upgrade the UK’s internet system. Now, a government decision is imminent. Agnes Ouyang was on her way to work in the Chinese city of Shenzhen when two police officers told her she had crossed a road illegally. They demanded to see her identity card; when she refused, they grabbed her and photographed her face. Within seconds, a central computer had worked out who she was so that they could fine her. No country is better at using technology to control people than China. Its facial-recognition systems can scan whole crowds to pick out someone the authorities are looking for. And many worry that if Britain puts a Chinese company in charge of building its 5G phone network, the government in Beijing will have the power to interfere in our lives too. One MP, Bob Seely, has compared it to letting "the fox into the hen house". The 5G (short for "fifth generation") system is expected to transform the internet, making download speeds at least 10 times faster, and allowing multiple devices to connect with each other. A driverless car will be able to pick up traffic reports and change its route for a faster one. A hospital operation could be carried out by surgeons based in different countries, working together through remote control. The British government believes that Huawei is the only company that can deliver 5G as quickly, cheaply and efficiently as the country needs. But critics say that Huawei is a tool of the Chinese government. Its founder was an engineer in the Chinese army, and is thought to work closely with the intelligenceHow clever someone is. services. In building the 5G network, it could secretly include software to spy on us and even sabotageDeliberately ruin, destroy or obstruct something — especially to further your own ambitions.  our infrastructureThe basic systems and services that a country needs to keep it going.. To make the decision harder, the US government has said that Huawei cannot be trusted, and has put pressure on Britain to use a different company. It has even threatened to stop sharing intelligence with the British security services if the deal goes ahead. With Brexit finally due to happen this week, Boris Johnson does not want to antagonise a trading partner as important as the US - but nor does he want to fall out with the Chinese. So, should Britain be doing business with Huawei? Treat or trick? Some say that Huawei should be chosen to build the 5G network on grounds of speed and cost. It has already provided many elements of the 4G network, which it could easily build on. With a different company, these would have to be replaced, which would take time and cost of billions of pounds. As for spying, sensitive parts of the network could be separated from the rest, with higher security. Others argue that a Huawei system would be a Trojan horse. Huawei does what the government in Beijing tells it to, and could secretly build in fatal weaknesses. It is wrong to say that some parts of the network could be made more secure. A European company such as Nokia would be a much safer alternative. We need to keep in with the US, and should join it in saying, "No way, Huawei!" KeywordsIntelligence - How clever someone is.

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