The Industrial Technology Research Institute of Taiwan announced on Tuesday that smartphones and computers from China’s Huawei corporation will no longer be allowed to connect with its internal network. The ban was imposed “for the sake of information security.”
The South China Morning Post (SCMP) noted Taiwan recently enacted new legislation to control “leaks of confidential information and malicious hacking into the systems of government departments and agencies.”
The Industrial Technology Research Institute is not a government agency per se, but it receives funding from the Taiwanese government and plays an important role in developing advanced technology. In the SCMP’s estimation, this makes it the first “semi-official organization on the self-ruled island to act on U.S. calls to blacklist the Chinese telecoms giant.”
The administration of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said on Tuesday that Huawei products are officially barred from interfacing with government systems under the new Information and Communication Security Management Act and have been effectively banned from high-level offices, including the presidency and cabinet, for over six years.
The Taiwanese Defense Ministry not only prohibits the use of equipment from Huawei and other Chinese companies but requires military personnel to install a special app that will ostensibly prevent their smartphones from being hacked to reveal sensitive information.
The app, known as MDM, has been in use since 2015. It activates automatically when it senses the phone has entered a secure installation, locking down everything from the phone camera to location tracking services. Last summer, the Taiwanese army began banning the use of smartphones that prevent the MDM app from functioning properly, notably including Apple iPhones.
The United States began urging allies to avoid using equipment from Huawei in November. The warning stresses the increased vulnerability to cyber-espionage that comes with the growing power and more tightly networked equipment operating in a 5G wireless environment. Huawei, which is among the largest telecom companies in the world, is involved in 5G projects in a number of nations, making it difficult for them to heed the U.S. warning. Other countries, such as Australia, have already banned 5G products from Chinese companies like Huawei and ZTE.
Soon after the Industrial Technology Research Institute’s ban went into effect, another research group sponsored by the Taiwanese government, the Institute for Information Industry, announced it would also ban Huawei products from accessing its network. Taiwan’s National Applied Research Laboratories, operating under the Ministry of Science and Technology, is reportedly studying the feasibility of imposing its own ban.