Huawei: Legislation does not bar company from Estonia

A Huawei-made smartphone .
A Huawei-made smartphone . Source: Huko Aaspõllu/ERR

Linking concerns over tech firm Huawei, and indeed the company as a whole, to any one specific state, is not justified, Huawei's Estonian subsidiary says, nor does a recent piece of European Union-compliant domestic legislation actually bar the Chinese-owned firm from Estonian networks and the impending 5G network, but whose wording has been softened compared with its original draft.

All significant hardware and software relating to communications networks are international and use similar supply chains, the company adds.

Huawei Estonia sales director Alar Heikla said that: "Amendments to the Electronic Communications Act do not prohibit the use of Huawei devices in Estonian telecommunications networks."

"After 13 years of contributing to Estonia's digitization without a single security incident, Huawei remains dedicated to servicing its customers," he continued.

"If security is ensured with transparent and proportionate measures, there will be no unwarranted discrimination or needless distortion of competition," he added, in the light of the Electronic Communications Act, which President Alar Karis gave his consent to on Tuesday and which is the domestic legislation implementing an EU law.

"Huawei supports the government's objective to ensure the security of the technology used in Estonian communications networks. The security of devices is our priority and we affirm that we can assuage all concerns the authorities may have with regard to Huawei's technology," Heikla went on.

The act's impact also remains unclear as the procedure for granting authorizations for use for the hardware and software permitted and prohibited in communications networks will be approved later by government order, the company added.

Huawei says it is carefully monitoring the handling of the act and its implementation, while the bill's wordin was made more neutral compared with its initial version during when it was at the Riigikogu.

The legislation still permits the national supervisory authority to discriminate against certain manufacturers based on their country of origin, Huawei Estonia added, particularly if that state is not an EU, NATO or Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) member state. China is not a member of any of those supra-national organizations.

The Communications Act updates the regulation of the Estonian telecommunications market in accordance with Directive (EU) 2018/1972 of the European Parliament and of the Council, which contains the requirement of technology neutrality.

Telecommunications companies will be granted the opportunity to choose the best possible technology according to their consumers' interests.

Huawei employs nearly 200,000 people and services over 3 billion people BNS reports; or around 40 percent of the global population.

Concerns over Huawei tech mainly related to alleged backdoors which, it is suspected, could permit Chinese state espionage within other sovereign states.

In 2020 then-prime minister Jüri Ratas (Center) and then-U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence agreed on a joint Estonian-U.S. approach to 5G and its security, aimed at essentially excluding Huawei.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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