US slightly winds its neck in over 5G security

Having previously tried to play hardball with Germany over 5G security the US now says its allies should follow its example.

This sudden change of heart was expressed by Robert Strayer, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Cyber, International Communications and Information Policy at the U.S. State Department in an interview with a few US hacks. But it’s even less substantial than it seems as the only reason the US has warmed to Germany’s approach is that it thinks it will result in the Huawei ban it has been seeking all along.

“We have encouraged countries to adopt risk-based security frameworks,” said Strayer. “And we think that a rigorous application of those frameworks will lead inevitably to the banning of Huawei. At this point we’re looking for governments to adopt security standards like we’re seeing in Germany. We think it was a very positive step forward in the German standards.”

Surely all security frameworks are largely risk-based. What is a security framework if not an attempt to mitigate risk? Apparently Germany is asking its operators to only work with ‘trustworthy’ vendors, which once more seems somewhat redundant as that was presumably already a priority. As ever the critical matter seems to concern Chinese law, which apparently compels Chinese companies to cooperate with the government, thus rendering them intrinsically untrustworthy.

Ultimately this seems to be a totally cosmetic concession by the US. Germany had previously made it clear that the US was overstepping the mark when it came to direct pressure over 5G security so now it’s saying Germany can do what it wants… so long as that results in Huawei getting banned. This leaves us where we’ve been for months – the US thinks everything Chinese is dodgy and expects its allies to publicly agree.

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