‘Five Eyes’ spy chiefs to discuss cyber threat

GCHQ Director Jeremy FlemingImage copyright Reuters
Image caption GCHQ director Jeremy Fleming will warn that a technological revolution “brings new and unprecedented challenges”

Experts from the so-called Five Eyes intelligence agencies will appear together for the first time in the UK to discuss cyber threats.

The Five Eyes was once an almost entirely secret intelligence alliance in which the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand shared information.

Representatives of the countries will speak at the CyberUK conference.

It comes amid reports the UK may be breaking from some allies by working with Chinese telecoms giant Huawei.

According to the Daily Telegraph, Prime Minister Theresa May has given the go-ahead for the company to participate in building some “non-core” parts of a new 5G data network, despite concerns raised by the home, defence and foreign secretaries.

The US has been campaigning for allies to exclude Huawei, with Australia already siding with Washington.

It has previously said it has “serious concerns over Huawei’s obligations to the Chinese government and the danger that poses to the integrity of telecommunications networks in the US and elsewhere”.

Responding to the reports, Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Tom Tugendhat tweeted that allowing Huawei to build some of the UK’s 5G infrastructure would “cause allies to doubt our ability to keep data secure and erode the trust essential to #FiveEyes cooperation”.

“There’s a reason others have said no,” he added.

Huawei has always denied being controlled by the Chinese government, or that its work poses any risks of espionage and sabotage.

It said it was awaiting a formal government announcement on the UK’s 5G plans, but was “pleased that the UK is continuing to take an evidence-based approach to its work, and we will continue to work cooperatively with the government, and the industry”.

A spokesman for the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said its review of the issue would report in due course.

Image copyright Huawei logo

Later, the director of GCHQ Jeremy Fleming will open the CyberUK conference in Glasgow by warning that a technological revolution “brings new and unprecedented challenges for policymakers, as they seek to protect citizens, judicial systems, businesses – and even societal norms”.

He will say that the government wants to do more to take the burden of cyber-security away from the individual and to work with manufacturers and online companies to ensure they build security into their products and services at the design stage.

Mr Fleming will also make the case that improving the cyber-security of the UK is only achievable if “we build a genuinely national effort – with more connections and deeper cooperation with the private sector and even closer working with our partners and allies”.

“To make this a success, our strongest defence and most powerful weapon will be our ingenuity – our ability to imagine what has yet to be imagined,” he will add.

“To see further into the future than anyone else.

“Our vision for the next stage of the UK’s cyber security strategy aims to do just that. The prize is great – a safer, more successful UK.”

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