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China Walks Out Of Wireless LAN Security Talks

China walked out of a wireless standards meeting this week, accusing the International Organization for Standardization of favoritism.

Patrick Mannion

February 24, 2005

2 Min Read

MANHASSET, N.Y. — China walked out of a wireless standards meeting this week, accusing the International Organization for Standardization of favoring the IEEE's 802.11i ANSI-certified wireless LAN security scheme over its own controverisal proposal, EE Times has learned.

The gambit came after China's Wireless Authentication and Privacy Infrastructure (WAPI) security scheme was withdrawn and placed on a slower track by the ISO. This week's meeting in Sulzbach, Germany, included the ISO/IEC JTC1 SC6 WG1 working group created to resolve the dispute.

China initially agreed last year to refrain from making its WAPI security scheme mandatory for wireless LAN equipment in China. It then approached ISO with a fast-track submission in an effort to make WAPI an international security standard. The 802.11i proposal is also on the fast-track for ISO approval, possibly by April. Until this week, the ISO group was focused on whether or not both 802.11i and WAPI should be cemented as enhanced — but optional — security standards.

However, sources said tempers flared when China's original fast-track submission, designated 1N7506 of China National Standard GB15629.11 (WAPI), was withdrawn from consideration. It was replaced by a revised submission, designated 6N12687, that removed the China proposal from the organization's fast-track approval process.

The withdrawal was based on a procedural issue, according to a source, and the clock for approval was reset indefinitely to a later submission. The result is a delay in moving the WAPI proposal through ISO.

Sources said China walked out specifially over disputes centering on which members have authority to seek a withdrawal and the timing of the request. Chinese delegates also accused ISO of favoring the IEEE 802.11i proposal.

It remains unclear for now whether the dispute will affect the current suspension of China's original law requiring mandatory implementation of WAPI. The IEEE is currently drafting a formal response, but declined to comment.

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