Britain could see a China-style “social monitoring” credit system implemented if 5G critics’ fears come to pass.
The high-speed network is currently being rolled out across the UK, with the government promising full coverage by 2025.
It’s being spearheaded by Huawei, the Chinese tech giant that currently supplies the 3G and 4G technology used by EE and Vodafone.
But the US government has strongly opposed Huawei’s involvement in British 5G, even threatening to restrict the intelligence it shares with us if the deal goes ahead.
In January a delegation of senior Trump administration officials flew to the UK to present evidence of the security risks they say Huawei pose to the country. One said it would be “nothing short of madness” for Britain to let the company supply its 5G.
The officials wouldn’t reveal details about their evidence, but one claimed China could potentially conduct intrusive surveillance of Brits by exploiting security vulnerabilities in the software.
Tanja Rebel, an activist and philosophy lecturer from the Isle of Wight, says the US government is right but their motives for banning Huawei from Britain are far from altruistic.
“The US is aware of the dangers that Huawei poses to national security, as 5G will make us far more vulnerable to malign foreign intrusion,” she told Daily Star Online.
“Of course, this does not just restrict itself to Huawei, it goes for any country with suspicious motives.
“This is why I think there is a competitive element in all of this as well: The US wants to hamper Chinese development of 5G and possibly even slow down UK development, as the country who is first to have comprehensive 5G coverage will have a significant competitive edge as well as complete control over its population.
“For 5G will entail the ultimate control grid.”
Ms Rebel, who has said the rollout of untested 5G technology “amounts to assault” on the British population , fears the extensive network could be twisted into a mass system of surveillance.
“See China where the digital social credit system is used to punish and penalise those who make even the tiniest of breaches, and where minorities are incarcerated in concentration camps where there is complete digital control.”
China’s powerful surveillance state, helped by high-tech facial recognition cameras on the streets, implements a controversial system that monitors citizens’ behaviour and rewards or punishes them accordingly .
Those who violate traffic laws, buy too many video games or post fake news online receive low “social credibility scores”, while those who donate blood or do volunteer work are scored highly.
The scores affect where people can travel, which schools their children can attend and even the speed of their internet.
Even the country’s notorious “re-education camps” are subject to round-the-clock surveillance.
Daily Star Online has approached Huawei for comment.
The United Nations has condemned the Chinese government over credible reports that more than a million Uighurs, the country’s Muslim minority, are being held in camps where they are tortured into swearing loyalty to the state.
Investigators have also claimed Uighurs are being killed for the purposes of organ harvesting .
China has defended its treatment of Muslims, claiming those in camps are treated well and that the initiative is successful in stamping out terrorism.