The UK government proposed a new bill to increase its powers over telecoms networks, which could result in operators being hit with large fines if they do not adhere to security requirements.
In a statement, the government explained the Telecommunications Security Bill would give it “unprecedented new powers” to boost security standards of UK networks and remove the threat of high-risk vendors.
It will strengthen the security framework for technology used in 5G and fibre networks, including equipment and software on masts, along with phone and internet traffic exchanges.
The aim is to protect the UK from hostile cyber activity, after an increase in attacks from Russia, China, North Korea and Iran over the past two years, the government explained.
In addition, the bill will give the government the power to compel operators to manage the risk of vendors deemed a security risk.
Companies which fall short “on the new duties or do not follow directions” could face fines of up to 10 per cent of turnover, or up to £100,000 a day.
The bill comes four months after the government banned the use of Huawei equipment in 5G networks and ordered operators to strip the vendor’s kit from their networks by 2027.
UK digital secretary Oliver Dowden said the country was investing billions to roll out 5G and gigabit broadband, but the benefits could only be realised if it had the full confidence in the security and resilience of networks.
“This ground-breaking bill will give the UK one of the toughest telecoms security regimes in the world and allow us to take the action necessary to protect our networks,” he said.
Regulator Ofcom will be tasked with policing the new rules, and it will therefore also be given stronger powers to monitor and assess operators’ security efforts.
The bill still needs to be passed through parliament: it is due to be presented today (24 November).Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back