Albania has joined a US State Department initiative called ‘The Clean Network’ which will address long-term threats to data privacy, security, and human rights allegedly posed by the Chinese Communist Party.
Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said that the US has “urged countries to become Clean Countries so that their citizens’ private information doesn’t end up in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.
US Ambassador Yuri Kim then announced on Twitter that Albania had joined the initiative.
Notably, the network excludes members from utilising any 5G services from “untrusted IT vendors” including Huawei and ZTE. The 5G Clean Path is described as an “end-to-end communication path that doesn’t use any transmission, control, computing, or storage equipment” from any of these companies.
“The 5G Clean Path embodies the highest standards of security against untrusted, high-risk vendors’ ability to disrupt, manipulate or deny services to private citizens, financial institutions, or critical infrastructure. All mobile data traffic entering American diplomatic systems will be subject to new, stringent requirements.”
The initiative will also ensure that Chinese carriers are not connected with US telecoms networks. The State Department said that these companies post a danger to US security and should not be involved with US telecommunications.
Untrusted applications will also be removed from US mobile app stores. On August 6, President Trump signed two executive orders to address threats posed by TikTok and WeChat. It will also prevent untrusted Chinese manufacturers from pre-installing or making available untrusted apps on their stores.
The press release called Huawei “an arm of the PRC surveillance state” and said that US companies should remove their apps from Huawei’s app store “to ensure they are not partnering with a human rights abuser.”
It will also prevent US citizens and Clean Countries citizens data being stored and processed on cloud-based systems created by Alibaba, Baidu, China Mobile, China Telecom, and Tencent.
Other countries that have joined the initiative include Australia, Canada, France, Greece, Israel, Sweden, the UK, and Vietnam.
Telekom Albania CEO Emil Georgakiev said:
“5G networks will play a critical role in the lives of individuals and business, with any malfunction of infrastructure or leakage of data having a devastating impact on society. That’s why Telekom Albania continues to show its commitment to the highest standards of network security for our customers and our partners by using only trusted equipment. We are proud to be a 5G Clean Path partner.”
Huawei has recently found themselves banned or restricted from operating in a growing number of countries due to the perceived threat of espionage. Under Chinese law, any company, even if they operate abroad, is required to hand over data to the government upon request. This led to fears that Huawei smartphones, networks, equipment and 5G networks could be used for spying and harvesting data of other countries citizens.
In addition to this, Huawei, staff members, and affiliated companies have been charged with bank fraud, stealing trade secrets, flouting US sanctions on Iran, wire fraud, money laundering, conspiracy, and obstruction of justice. Several employees have also been arrested on charges of espionage.
Serbia however, has been working on the implementation of a project with Huawei for smart surveillance cameras that are able to recognise objects and faces. Concerns have been raised over constitutional violations, threats to privacy and possible human rights infringements.