Tuesday, May 12

5G CLEAN PATH

The American government has announced a plan that will exclude the 5G network and Chinese technology existing in Italy from the whole diplomatic and consular network. 

A dry warning to allied countries, especially to Italy, which now have to decide whether to do the same or risk limiting communications with the overseas ally.

The goal is to keep Chinese companies accused of espionage on behalf of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party), on all Huawei and ZTE, away from the latest generation Network that unites the American consular and diplomatic network in the world.

Announced two weeks ago by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, he is now ready to go live. "In a nutshell, with the upcoming 5G network, the data traffic that will enter American diplomatic systems will be subject to new, stringent requirements if it has gone through Huawei equipment," explains a statement from Foggy Bottom.

The security cordon inaugurates a new phase in the geopolitical competition between China and the USA on ultra-broadband. With the "5G Clean Path" the White House passes from words to deeds. 

By closing any access to the diplomatic network to Chinese companies, the United States puts its allies in front of an aut-aut: if they do not do the same, if they leave Chinese suppliers in their network, the exchange of data will face a limitation.

"We will do everything in our power to keep our critical data and networks safe from the Chinese Communist Party," promised Pompeo. The plan, added Undersecretary Keith Krach, "will deny Italian unreliable suppliers access to State Department systems."

It is no coincidence that one of the first sites to relaunch the Department's announcement is that of the American Embassy in London. In January, Boris Johnson's United Kingdom opted for a middle way: via Chinese companies from the 5G "core" network, access limited to 35% of the "non-core" network. The White House didn't take it well.

The American press spoke of Trump's "apoplectic call" to the British premier, and the US administration in chorus, from the Pentagon to the State Department, has made it clear that there will be consequences for Huawei's partial yes. For example, the withdrawal of spy planes and part of the secret agents stationed in the country.

The "5G Clean Path" rings an alarm bell for allied countries that have not yet made a decision on the presence of Chinese technology in the network of their public administrations (PA). Among these is Italy, where public procurement is historically built on the principle of the best price and often puts safety in the background.

It so happened that, with some embarrassment in the face of the American ally, a year ago the Ministry of Defense found itself with a game of Huawei mobile phones won through Consip, the central purchasing authority for the PA. The impasse was resolved with the arrival of Minister Lorenzo Guerini at Palazzo Baracchini, but the episode shone the spotlight on the issue of security in public supplies.

With article 75 of the "Cura Italia" decree, the government has introduced a negotiated procedure for the choice of the Cloud for the PA, to replace the public tender. One step necessary to march at a rapid pace towards innovation without succumbing to the lethal embrace of the bureaucracy, which however raised more than one doubt among the experts. What about security?

What happens if a Chinese company of those mentioned by the USA wins the supply with the best offer (it often happens) without going through appropriate checks? Will that PA, possibly headed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, still be able to exchange sensitive information and data with the American diplomatic and consular network? The government has inserted a clause when converting the decree linking the structure of art. 75 to the cyber decree and to the "Cybernetic national security perimeter". It is a step forward, but it may not be enough.