An obscure piece of legislation could sink Huawei’s UK ambitions on human rights grounds

Last week, members of Britain’s House of Lords debated adding an amendment to a little-known bill regulating the installation of broadband in leasehold apartments. The amendment, introduced by independent peer David Alton in the upper house of Parliament, sought to add language to the bill stating that only telecom operators with clean human rights records could install high-speed internet connections in these apartments—but it had a specific provider in mind.

“You could call it the Huawei amendment,” Alton told Quartz, “because effectively that’s what this is.”

As the UK reconsiders its relationship with China, the government is facing a coordinated campaign in Parliament to amend routine bills with anti-Huawei clauses. The move by a group of cross-party peers to push for a self-styled “human rights threshold” in the UK’s digital infrastructure is only the latest such efforts, and is slated to come to a head in the next two weeks as Downing Street decides whether this is a battle worth fighting.

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