Clean Networks is a comprehensive effort by a coalition of like-minded countries and companies to secure their critical telecommunications, cloud, data analytics, mobile apps, Internet of Things, and 5G technologies from malign actors by relying on only trusted vendors who are not subject to unjust or extra-judicial control by authoritarian governments, such as the Chinese Communist Party.

Clean Networks consists of multiple lines of effort all rooted in Digital Trust Standards.

Digital Trust Standards

At the request of the Department of State, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) assembled a group of 25 experts from Asian, European, and U.S. companies and research centers to develop criteria to assess the trustworthiness of telecommunications equipment suppliers. These Criteria for Security and Trust in Telecommunications Networks and Services complement the work of the Prague Proposals and the European Union’s 5G Toolbox. They offer governments and network owners or operators an additional tool to use to determine trustworthiness and security.

Prague Proposals

In May 2019, government officials from more than 30 countries across the globe, alongside representatives from the European Union, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and industry, participated in discussions regarding the important national security, economic, and commercial considerations that must be part of each country’s evaluation of 5G vendors. The resulting Prague Proposals on 5G security published by the Czech conference chair serve as a set of recommendations and principles for nations to consider as they design, construct, and administer their 5G infrastructure.

5G Clean Path

Secretary Michael R. Pompeo in the State Department Press Briefing Room on April 29, 2020, in front of a screen reading "Clean Path"

On April 29, 2020, Secretary Pompeo announced that the U.S. Department of State will begin requiring a Clean Path for all 5G network traffic entering and exiting U.S. diplomatic facilities.

The 5G Clean Path is an end-to-end communication path that does not use any transmission, control, computing, or storage equipment from untrusted IT vendors, such as Huawei and ZTE, which are required to comply with directives of the Chinese Communist Party.

The 5G Clean Path embodies the highest standards of security against untrusted, high-risk vendors’ ability to disrupt, manipulate or deny services to private citizens, financial institutions, or critical infrastructure.

Untrusted IT vendors will have no access to U.S. State Department systems. We will follow the letter of the law to ensure that we have a clean path for all 5G network traffic coming into all of our facilities. Period. We will keep doing all we can to keep our critical data and our networks safe from the Chinese Communist Party.
Michael R. Pompeo
Secretary of State

5G Clean Countries and Carriers

Many countries are choosing to allow only trusted vendors in their 5G networks. Examples include the United Kingdom, Czech Republic, Poland, Sweden, Estonia, Romania, Denmark, and Latvia. Greece has agreed to use Ericsson, rather than Huawei, to develop its 5G infrastructure.

Some of the largest telecom companies around the globe are also becoming “Clean Telcos.” Orange in France, Jio in India, Telstra in Australia, SK and KT in South Korea, NTT in Japan, and O2 in the United Kingdom are rejecting doing business with tools of the Chinese Communist Party’s surveillance state, like Huawei. The big three telecommunications companies in Canada have decided to partner with Ericsson, Nokia, and Samsung, because public opinion was overwhelmingly against allowing Huawei to build Canada’s 5G networks.

Telefónica states in its Digital Manifesto that “security is paramount,” and its CEO and Chairman José María Álvarez-Pallete López recently declared, “Telefónica is proud to be a 5G Clean Path company. Telefónica Spain and O2 (UK) are fully clean networks, and Telefónica Deutschland (Germany) and Vivo (Brazil) will be in the near future without equipment from any untrusted vendors.”

Japan’s NTT states, “The safety and security of our customers and their personal information is our top priority. In this context, the statement by US government regarding 5G Clean Network is consistent with our position. That is why we are glad to be appreciated as a 5G Clean Telecommunications company and are committed to only using trusted vendors in our 5G networks in Japan and as we expand our business around the world.”

U.S. Department of State

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