UK telecom companies face big fines under new security law

UK telecom companies face big fines under new security law


London: BT companies will face huge fines if they fail to comply with strict new security rules, according to a new law passed by Parliament on Tuesday aimed at blocking high-risk equipment suppliers like China’s Huawei.

The Telecommunications (Security) Bill tightens security requirements for new high speed 5G wireless and fiber optic networks, with the threat of fines of up to either 10% of sales or 100,000 pounds ($134,000) a day for companies that don’t follow the rules.

The draft law paved the way for the British government to officially approve Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision in July, which banned Huawei from establishing a 5G mobile phone network in the UK for security reasons.

The British government said it would impose a ban — reversing an earlier plan to give Huawei a limited role — because US sanctions prevented it from ensuring the safety of its network equipment. It also requires wireless operators to eliminate all existing Huawei 5G equipment from their networks by 2027. This Chinese company is one of the outbreak points of a broader global war between Washington and Beijing over trade and technology.

The government said the new rules are an important step in protecting the UK from hostile cyber activities by state actors or criminals, citing cyber attacks previously attributed to Russia, China, North Korea and Iran.

“This groundbreaking bill will give the U.K. one of the toughest telecoms security regimes in the world and allow us to take the action necessary to protect our networks,” Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden said.

The bill, which needs to be approved by Parliament, spells out tougher security standards for the electronic equipment and software at mobile phone mast sites and in telephone exchanges that handle internet traffic and telephone calls.

Huawei said it was disappointed that the U.K. government was looking to exclude it from the 5G rollout.

“This decision is politically-motivated and not based on a fair evaluation of the risks,” said Vice President Victor Zhang. ”It does not serve anyone’s best interests as it would move Britain into the digital slow lane and put at risk the government’s levelling up agenda.”

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