UK spy chief says 5G engineering risks more important than firm's country

FILE PHOTO: GCHQ Director Jeremy Fleming delivers a speech as he meets with Britain's Queen Elizabeth during her visit at the Watergate House to mark the centenary of the GCHQ (Government Communications Head Quarters) in London, Britain, February 14, 2019. REUTERS/Hannah McKay/Pool/File Photo

GLASGOW, Scotland (Reuters) - The head of Britain’s GCHQ spy agency said on Wednesday that the suitability of companies to supply equipment for the United Kingdom’s 5G telecoms systems depended more on their security and engineering processes rather than where they were based.

Jeremy Fleming’s comments came after a British security source told Reuters that Britain would allow Chinese firm Huawei access to non-core parts of its 5G network, but block it from all core parts of the system.

“When we analyze a company for their suitability to supply equipment to the UK’s telecoms networks we are looking at the risk arising from their security and engineering processes as well as the way these technologies are deployed in our national telecom networks,” Fleming told a conference in Scotland.

“A flag of origin of 5G equipment is important but it is a secondary factor.”

Fleming said that Britain’s policy approach for 5G security was being concluded and that it would be announced by the minister responsible soon.

Reporting by Jack Stubbs and Michael Holden; Editing by Guy Faulconbridge