Chinese telecom firm Huawei's role in U.K. porn filter scrutinized in report

A visitor walks out from the entrance to the Huawei office in Wuhan, central China's Hubei province on October 8, 2012. Beijing on October 8 urged Washington to "set aside prejudices" after a draft Congressional report said Chinese telecom firms Huawei and ZTE were security threats that should be banned from business in the US. CHINA OUT AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/GettyImages) STR

Concerns over who controls what content gets censored in Britain's ban on pornography have come to light in a recent report by the BBC.

Prime Minister David Cameron announced Monday that by the end of the year Internet service providers will automatically block adult content to new subscribers and only account holders can make changes to the setting. Existing customers will be contacted by their ISPs to make "an unavoidable decision" about whether or not to apply the filters.

Cameron added that  British telecommunications company TalkTalk was already reaching out to customers to start the process. However, the company is being scrutinized because of its association with the Chinese company Huawei -- one of the largest manufactures of telecommunications equipment in the world that has reported ties to the Chinese government.

A service called Homesafe that has been provided by TalkTalk since 2011 lets subscribers voluntarily filter content, like pornography, gambling or social media. Huawei helped build the infrastructure that allows TalkTalk to block websites.

According to the BBC, TalkTalk confirmed that Huawei can monitor activity, checks request against a blacklist of over 65 million websites and deny access if it finds a match. Populating the list is automated, but TalkTalk and Huawei can independently add or remove sites. It is presumed that the Huawei-built infrastructure will still be utilized when the U.K. ban rolls out.

Huawei claims that customers are in control of what website addresses are added to the database, and that the technology is not different from what already exists in the market.

In a statement given to the Wall Street Journal, a spokesperson for Huawei said: "The technology is an industry standard URL-categorizing solution which gives telecoms operators control over the service they offer to their customers. The solution in turn gives their customers choice and control over of which categories of website can be accessed through their broadband service. The system is similar to other solutions in the market and is based on key word categorization; URLs are added under instruction from the customer."

TalkTalk says it is comfortable with its relationship with Huawei, the BBC reports.

Cameron says Ofcom, an industry regulator, will monitor ISPs to judge how well the program is being implemented. Whether or not it will audit the blacklist independently is unknown. A spokesperson for Ofcom told CBSNews.com that it is too early to determine the organization's level of involvement, and that its main role is to determine the effectiveness of the ISP.

In the United States, suspicions over Huawei's close ties to the Chinese government have raised concerns over national security and Chinese espionage. Jim Lewis, a cybersecurity analyst, told "60 Minutes" last year that concerns over Huawei's close ties to the Chinese government caused the Obama administration to block what would have been the company's first American deal, a $5 billion contract to build Sprint's new 4G wireless network.

"Here, companies are used to, you know, throwing their weight around and telling the government what to do. In China, a company is a Chia pet. The state tells them what to do, and they do it,"Jim Lewis, a cybersecurity analyst, told "60 Minutes" last year. "There is no hard evidence that's happened with Huawei, but the Obama administration has been unwilling to take the risk."

Huawei has maintained that it does not have close ties to the Chinese government, and that it is just another business in the Asian nation.

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