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G7 leaders discuss 5G infrastructure security for first time

Representatives agreed on the need for “rigorous evaluation of equipment” and avoiding over-reliance on a small number of suppliers

G7 tech leaders have discussed for the first time the importance of promoting security and resilience in critical digital infrastructure, highlighting 5G and future communication technologies in particular.

Leaders highlighted the need for a more secure and transparent ICT infrastructure supply chain, particularly in global telecoms. This will require a “rigorous evaluation of equipment” which is consistent with existing measures, such as those found in the EU’s 5G toolbox.

The leaders came together at the G7 Digital and Tech ministerial virtual meeting, hosted by the UK ahead of this year’s G7 Summit, to sign a declaration containing a number of principles relating to the future of technology as nations recover from the pandemic.

It was also revealed that international regulators and policymakers will meet with the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in the autumn to discuss long term coordination and enforcement to address concerns over the market power of big tech platforms.

“As a coalition of the world’s leading democracies and technological powers, we want to forge a compelling vision of how tech should support and enhance open and democratic societies in the digital age,” said digital secretary Oliver Dowden.

This comes after GCHQ director Jeremy Fleming warned that Western nations are unlikely to have a role in the shaping of critical technologies, like cyber security, unless meaningful action is taken. He underlined that the UK needs to ensure it has a diversity of suppliers when it comes to 5G infrastructure, referencing the previous reliance on Chinese networking giant Huawei.

MPs warned the government in February over its dependence on just two 5G vendors, Ericsson and Nokia, after legislation was introduced to ban Huawei from the country’s 5G network infrastructure.

Across the world, competition regulators are paying more attention to the market power of big tech platforms. In the US, the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee approved a report seeking to curb Big Tech market dominance, with the possibility of vendor platforms being separated.

In Australia, the competition watchdog released a report analysing the dominance of the Apple and Google app stores, including a number of recommendations the companies could adopt as it scrutinised their market power.

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