GCSB Minister Andrew Little says the "national security risks," identified by the agency, in regards to Spark's planned 5G roll-out, relate to "intervention in an unauthorised way."

Earlier today, Spark said it had been notified by GCSB Director-General Andrew Hampton that it cannot use Huawei gear for its pending 5G mobile network upgrade.

Under the Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Act 2013 or Ticsa, technology used by Spark, Chorus, Vodafone, 2degrees and other network operators for upgrades need to be vetted and approved by the security agency.

GCSB today said it had informed Spark that a "significant network security risk was identified".


Little said the agency had identified technology that Spark wished to introduce for 5G constituted "what would create a national security risk".

But he stayed mum on details of what those risks were, citing "classified information."
"In any event, the process is an ongoing one."

He said a risk to national security, through the telecommunications network, "relates to intervention in an unauthorized way".

"The process is the GCSB provides a technical assessment and evaluation to determine whether or not there is the possibility of a threat to national security."

Little said he had not been called upon to make any decisions on the matter.

"The next part of the process is Spark and GCSB working together to identify any mitigation and whether or not those mitigations were enough to eliminate the national security risk."

He had not been given an indication as to how long that would take.

"This was an assessment of technology that Spark wishes to introduce to their network, not technology that is installed at this point."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had been briefed.

The process now is Spark and the GCSB have the opportunity to work together to look at any mitigations and see if any "outstanding issues could be resolved," Little said.

"New Zealand and China have a mature relationship, which is much broader than this issue.

Minister of Trade David Parker added:

"New Zealand and China have a mature relationship, which is much broader than this issue.

"The Telecommunications Interception Capability and Security Act applies a country and vendor agnostic approach."

The GCSB's move comes after reports on Friday that the US was pressuring allies to drop Huawei.

Spark says it had not yet had time to review the decision in detail.

"While we are disappointed with this decision, we are confident that the decision will not affect our plans to launch Spark's 5G network by 1 July 2020, subject to the necessary spectrum being made available by the New Zealand Government," Spark said in a statement.