Displaying items by tag: Control

The French government has announced that it will be instructing operators to allow them more oversight and control in relation to the rollout of 5G networks due to increased security concerns.

The decision by the French government comes on the back of speculation that a number of Western nations are considering banning Chinese telecommunications vendor Huawei from bidding on contracts for 5G deployment, amidst fears that Beijing would be able to gain access to sensitive communications and infrastructure.

Huawei should be the go-to vendor for operators globally, as it is well-ahead of its European rivals Nokia and Ericsson in relation to 5G equipment. However, Washington are lobbying its allies to prevent the Chinese telecommunications behemoth from being involved in their 5G networks as US intelligence agencies have deemed them a serious threat to domestic security.

Guillaume Poupard, head of France's national cybersecurity agency ANSSI, said a new law could be drafted in the forthcoming number of months in an effort to ‘toughen and extend’ authorization requirements in order to be sure we control the entire 5G network.

However, he insisted that approvals would not be refused "because of a company's image, or its country of origin".

Poupard told AFP, "There aren't good equipment makers on the one hand and bad equipment makers on the other -- unfortunately the situation is much more complex. The need for oversight is all the more critical since the base stations and other infrastructure for ultrafast 5G networks are much less centralized than current 4G systems.”

Huawei’s chairman Liang Hua told reporters at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, that it would pull out of partnerships in hostile countries.

Liang said, “We do not pose a threat to a future digital society. The United States has not yet put forward any evidence to justify its claim that Huawei’s equipment could serve as a Trojan horse for Beijing's security apparatus.”

Published in Telecom Operators

Chinese telecom giants ZTE have received the largest criminal penalty in US history in relation to an export control case - following its admission that it violated the terms and conditions of US export controls in selling goods to both Iran and North Korea. ZTE pleaded guilty to the charges and the organization will immediately pay $892m - while another $300m in penalties will be suspended for a period of seven years. Some of the charges against ZTE included obstructing justice for hiding information from government investigators. The settlement reached between ZTE and US authorities is subject to court approval.

It emerged at the court case that from January 2010 to March 2016, ZTE shipped $32m in US cellular network equipment to Iran - and in addition to this made 283 shipments of cell phones to North Korea, with the full knowledge of the highest levels of company management. It was also disclosed that the company 'conspired to evade the long-standing and widely known US embargo against Iran' and conducted business with entities affiliated with Tehran to supply, build, operate and implement large scale telecommunications networks in the country whilst using US equipment and software.

The conclusion represents the end of a lengthy 5-year investigation by the US government into ZTE's activity and actions. The investigation was conducted under Barack Obama's presidency - but the outcome presents an opportunity for Donald Trump to flex his aggressive rhetoric on trade policy which was a consistent theme he used under the category of 'national security' on his campaign trail.

US commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross, said any countries that breach their export control laws will suffer the consequences and will not go unpunished. He said: "We are putting the world on notice: the games are over. Those who flout our economic sanctions and export control laws will not go unpunished -they will suffer the harshest of consequences. Under President Trump's leadership, we will be aggressively enforcing strong trade policies with the dual purpose of protecting American national security and protecting American workers."

ZTE issued a statement in relation to the settlement and acknowledged that it had made mistakes and was fully willing to take responsibility for their actions. Chairman and CEO of ZTE,

Dr. Zhao Xianming said: "ZTE acknowledges the mistakes it made, accepts responsibility for them, and remains committed to positive change in the company." He added that ZTE had made alterations to its personnel in order to eradicate the wrongdoings of a previous regime.

ZTE's CEO added: "Instituting new compliance focused features and making significant personnel changes has been a top priority for the company. We have learned many lessons from this experience and will continue on our path of becoming a model for export compliance and management excellence. We are committed to a new ZTE, compliant, healthy and trustworthy."

He concluded the statement by thanking customers, employees, stakeholders and partners for standing by them during this hugely difficult time for the organization. He said: "The agreements we reached will enable us to move forward in a stronger position than ever before. We are grateful to all our customers, partners, employees and stakeholders who have stood by us throughout this difficult time. With this agreement now behind us - we can confidently grow our business with suppliers, continue to provide innovate technology solutions to our partners, and execute our growth strategies as a new ZTE."  

Published in Government

Germany are proposing to adopt new legislation that would hold major social media companies liable for provocative and inflammatory content that breaks German law. The government plan to impose heavy fines on companies like Facebook, Google and Twitter and others which fail to police, control and delete hate speech from its platforms. 

Angela Merkel’s coalition government devised the idea in an attempt to alleviate the growing problem of hate speech and fake news stories polluting social media channel in the country. Her cabinet believes companies should set-up clear channels for registering complaints -make the details of those complaints public, and hire legally qualified ombudsmen to carry out deletions.

Online platforms that fail to meet such legal requirements could be hit with fines calculated on the basis of their global annual turnover, or face on-the-spot fines of up to €500,000 if they neglect to remove posts in breach of German hate speech law within 24 hours.

Social media and the power of it is under the microscope following the seismic political shift that occurred in both the US and UK this year. Populist narratives, conspiracy theories and xenophobic rhetoric were at the forefront of the Brexit campaign in the UK, and then the shock election of Donald Trump in the USA. Social media was a powerful tool used during both campaigns. Those results have now left many people feeling nervous ahead of elections in Germany and France next year.

Germany already has in place some of the toughest laws in Europe in relation to hate speech, which includes prison sentences for Holocaust denial. A taskforce regarding hate speech was set-up by German Justice Minister Heiko Maas last year.

He met representatives from Google, Facebook and Twitter, and the meeting was ultimately aimed at deleting illegal postings within 24 hours. However, a government report into the deletion of illegal postings have unearthed some unsatisfactory results.

It signalled clearly that tech companies are struggling to adapt adequately to the breaches of law on their platforms. Facebook only deleted 46%, YouTube just 10% and incredibly Twitter only deleted 1% of illegal content which was flagged by users.

Mass said: “We are already looking in detail at how we can make providers of online platforms criminally liable for undeleted content that breaks German law. Of course, if other measures don’t work we also need to think about fines. That would be a strong incentive for quick action. We urgently need more transparency.  Companies that make money with their social networks have social obligations – it cannot be in any company’s interest that their platform is used to commit crimes.

It will be interesting to see how Facebook and other leading tech firms react to the proposed legislation and new laws if passed, and the legality of collecting fines. Facebook is a US based company and it’s not clear whether or not Germany would have any recourse in collecting fines. The murky world of social media has just got murkier.

Published in Government