Minister of Entrepreneurship and IT Andres Sutt (Reform) submitted to the government on Monday a draft regulation related to the safety of communications networks, which would establish the requirements for 5G networks to ensure their compatibility with national security interests.
"As technology develops, 5G networks will become part of numerous critically important services, making the security of these networks increasingly important for the whole society. For Estonia, it is important to guarantee that our 5G networks and IT infrastructure more broadly should be reliable and free of high-risk technology," the minister said.
Sutt noted that doing so is important for both ensuring security as well as maintaining trust in Estonia as a digital state. The minister said Estonia is also cooperating with its allies in the EU as well as in NATO in terms of communication network security.
The draft regulation seeks to specify the ways how entrepreneurs need to take national security into account in the future. Security threats posed by hardware and software are to be assessed in the authorization procedure.
The draft regulation states the obligation to obtain authorization for use and the prohibition on high-risk hardware and software will apply to technology will be introduced after the regulation enters into use. Both will also apply to existing technology to which 5G or newer functions are introduced.
The authorization obligation and prohibition of high-risk technology will apply differently to different parts of the communications network as they will apply immediately to core networks but for 5G and newer networks, a transition period will be permitted. This means that for 5G networks, authorization needs to be applied for immediately, whereas the use of high-risk hardware and software remains permitted until December 31, 2025.
The minister said that discussions with entrepreneurs have been underway for a long time and a balance has been sought between national security and telecommunications companies' interests.
"Reducing possible expenses for telecommunications companies has been a very important aspect, which we took into consideration when choosing the time for the regulation's entry into force," he said.
Sutt noted that under the regulation, the state would give entrepreneurs five years to reorganize their business and make the necessary changes in their technology.
"That way, we'll reduce economic losses while guaranteeing the security of 5G and other IT infrastructure," he said.
The minister noted that the new regulation does not concern consumer mobile and smart devices.
The regulation will enter into force after it has been granted approval by the government.
€60,000 5G health effects study commissioned
A €60,000 study on the health effects of 5G communication networks has been commissioned by the Ministry of Social Affairs and the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MAEC).
MAEC Secretary General Ando Leppiman authorized the Ministry of Social Affairs to organize and conduct an applied study related to "non-ionizing radiation".
"As the creation of new 5G networks becomes more and more relevant, there has been a recent increase in public interest in the health effects of 5G. In our opinion, there is no reason to believe that 5G will cause adverse health effects, as 5G does not exceed that of other mobile masts and devices. However, as there is great interest, we will order a more detailed study with the Ministry of Social Affairs to dispel hesitations, which will look at radiation effects in Estonia more broadly and, if necessary, recommend a review of general radiation standards," spokesperson Laura Laaster told ERR on Tuesday.
She added so far Estonian telecommunications operators have not had any problems with complying with the established radiation standards.
Editor: Helen Wright