Ministers have been warned that China could spy on Britons by “weaponising” microchips embedded in everyday items such as refrigerators.
Automobiles and household appliances could be used for “Trojan horse” technology, posing a threat to national security.
The modules collect data and then transmit it through a 5G network, according to a report sent to the Government by a former diplomat who has advised Parliament on Beijing.
The data allows China to track the movements of intelligence targets such as people, arms, and supplies, which could then be used for industrial espionage.
Millions of them are already in use in the United Kingdom, where they can be found in laptop computers, voice-controlled speakers, wearables, and refrigerators.
According to the report, which was released by the Washington-based consultancy OODA, the potential threat outweighs the threat posed by Chinese-made components in mobile phone masts, which resulted in a government ban on Huawei products being used in mobile infrastructure.
Senior MPs have echoed the report’s concerns about the government’s failure to recognise the threat posed by the modules, known as cellular IoTs.
“We are not yet awake to this threat,” said the report’s author, Charles Parton. China has identified an opportunity to dominate this market, and if it does so, it will be able to harvest an enormous amount of data while also making foreign countries dependent on them.”
Firms in China are required to hand over data to the Chinese government if requested, allowing the Chinese Communist Party access to as many devices as it desires.