LONDON Dec 17 British Prime Minister David
Cameron said on Tuesday an internal review had shown the
government needed to enhance its oversight of a cyber security
centre in southern England run by Chinese telecoms firm Huawei
Huawei supplies software and equipment which channels phone
calls and data around Britain, but has found itself at the
centre of a debate, particularly in the United States, over
whether it is a risk for governments to allow foreign suppliers
access to their networks.
The British government ordered a review of Huawei's cyber
security centre in July after parliament's intelligence
committee said UK security checks were "insufficiently robust"
when Huawei began working on the country's network through
contracts with companies such as BT in 2005.
Cameron said in a written statement to parliament on Tuesday
that his national security adviser had concluded the government
should enhance its oversight of the Huawei facility and that the
GCHQ spy agency should take a leading role in future senior
Huawei, the world's second biggest telecoms gear maker,
opened the cyber security centre, known as The Cell, in southern
England in 2010 to test the security of its software and
hardware to ensure that they didn't expose Britain's network to
outside hacking or spying.
The review by the government's National Security Adviser Kim
Darroch said the centre was operating effectively and it was
sufficiently independent from Huawei's headquarters.
But he added that GCHQ could be more involved in assessing
its performance and in verifying its continuing independence.
Huawei, which has always denied wrongdoing and said its
work is secure, welcomed Cameron's statement.
"We support the review's recommendations to optimise the
management of the Huawei Cyber Security Evaluation Centre
(HCSEC) and will continue to work with stakeholders to improve
its capabilities," the company said.
Darroch also said government ministers should have a greater
say in assessing the security implications of developments in
the telecommunications industry, addressing an oversight when BT
awarded Huawei a multi-billion pound contract to upgrade its
The intelligence committee had said in July that lawmakers
were not made aware of the deal until 2006, despite officials
being informed two years before it was awarded, which it said
was an "unacceptable" lapse.
To that end, Darroch said Huawei's cyber security centre was
"a model for government collaboration with the private sector"
in its understanding of the fast-moving nature of the industry.