The text of the following joint declaration was released by the Governments of the United States of America and the Slovak Republic on October 23, 2020.
Having considered that secure fifth generation wireless communications networks (5G) will be vital to both future prosperity and national security, the Slovak Republic and the United States declare their desire to strengthen our cooperation on 5G. 5G will enable a vast array of new applications, including the provision of critical services to the public, which will benefit our citizens and our economies. Increased amounts of data on 5G networks will further interconnect the economies of the world, including the Slovak Republic and the United States, and facilitate cross-border services and commerce. Protecting communications networks from disruption or manipulation, and ensuring the privacy and individual liberties of the citizens of the Slovak Republic and the United States are of vital importance.
Therefore, the Slovak Republic and the United States welcome efforts such as the Council of the European Union Conclusions (2019) on the “Significance of 5G to the European Economy and the Need to Mitigate Security Risks Linked to 5G,” the Communication (2020) from the European Commission on “Secure 5G deployment in the EU – Implementing the EU Toolbox,” and the Chair’s statement from the Prague 5G Security Conference – the “Prague Proposals” (2019) – as important steps toward developing a common approach to 5G network security based on the foundation of free and fair competition, transparency, and the rule of law. The Slovak Republic and the United States also recall the London Declaration (2019), in which the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and Allies, within their respective authority, committed to ensuring the security of their communications, including 5G.
The Slovak Republic and the United States emphasize the importance of encouraging the participation of reliable and trustworthy network hardware and software suppliers in 5G markets, taking into account risk profile assessments, and promoting frameworks that effectively protect 5G networks from unauthorized access and interference. The Slovak Republic and the United States further recognize that 5G suppliers should provide products and services that enable innovation and promote efficiency. The Slovak Republic and the United States believe that all countries share a responsibility to undertake a careful and balanced approach to network security, and the evaluation of 5G component and software providers.
To promote a vibrant and robust 5G ecosystem, the Slovak Republic and the United States believe that a rigorous evaluation of suppliers and supply chains should take into account the rule of law; the security environment; ethical supplier practices; and a supplier’s compliance with security standards and best practices. Specifically, evaluations should be careful and complete and include especially the following elements:
- Whether the network hardware and software suppliers are subject, without independent judicial review, to control by a foreign government;
- Whether the network hardware and software suppliers have transparent ownership, partnerships, and corporate governance structures;
- Whether the network hardware and software suppliers are committed to innovation and respect for intellectual property rights; and
- Whether the network hardware and software suppliers have a record of ethical corporate behavior and are subject to a legal regime that enforces transparent corporate practices.
The Slovak Republic and the United States also believe that the same kind of rigorous evaluation should be applied to foreign direct investments in critical communication infrastructure, be it physical or virtual, through dedicated screening mechanism. Further, the Slovak Republic and the United States recognize the need to raise awareness of the importance of 5G security and intend to promote it within the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the European Union.