Q+A: Robert Strayer interviewed by Jack Tame
America's top cyber diplomat says the United States will reassess how it shares information with New Zealand if Chinese company Huawei is allowed to upgrade mobile networks to 5G in this country.
Last year, New Zealand's security agency, the GCSB, refused Spark permission to use Huawei as part of its planned 5G upgrade because "a significant network security risk was identified".
Spark has the option to submit a revised proposal addressing those concerns.
Robert Strayer is the US State Department official in charge of cyber security and was asked in an interview for TVNZ1's Q+A what will happen if New Zealand does allow Huawei to build 5G technology.
"We've said that all around the globe we need to continue to ensure that we continue to maintain robust information sharing relationship with governments," he replied.
"At the same time we also need to be able to protect the information that is in our intelligence channels. So we will reassess how we share information if there are deployed untrusted vendors in 5G networks."
Asked by interviewer Jack Tame if there would be some repercussions if New Zealand was to allow Huawei technology, Mr Strayer said, "Well, all we'd want to say is that we would have to reassess how we protect that information."
He added: "We want to maintain the most robust relationship, particularly with a key ally like New Zealand."
Huawei says security concerns about it are politically motivated.
But Mr Strayer said the United States' concerns are genuine "about the importance of 5G security and about the real risk that Huawei could be commanded by the Chinese government to take a number of actions that are not in anyone's interests".
He said it's also important to recognise that Huawei has a long history of untrusted activity.
"They have a long history of corrupt practices around the world as well as intellectual property theft themselves. They're under indictment for intellectual property theft in the United States as well as violating Iran sanctions," Mr Strayer said.
Please find the full interview here.
Q+A, 9:30pm Mondays on TVNZ 1 and one hour later on TVNZ 1 + 1.
Streamed live at www.tvnz.co.nz
Thanks to the support from NZ On Air.