U.S. officials state they have evidence that the Chinese company Huawei has backdoor access to mobile-phone networks worldwide, posing a threat to national security.
“We have evidence that Huawei has the capability secretly to access sensitive and personal information in systems it maintains and sells around the world,” U.S. National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien told the Wall Street Journal.
Previously the United States claimed that Huawei could secretly access mobile networks, but did not provide evidence that could support the claim, stating they didn’t need to. However, now the government is stating they have that evidence and are sharing their intelligence with allies like Germany and the UK. The Trump administration is encouraging other countries and mobile-phone companies alike to remove Huawei gear from their networks.
By law, telecom-equipment makers must create “backdoors” in their hardware as a way for authorities to access the networks for lawful purposes. However, they are also required to ensure the manufacturer can’t obtain access without the consent of the network operator. Huawei violated these laws, in multiple countries, because they secretly preserved backdoor access to these networks with the carriers’ knowledge.
A U.S. official told the Wall Street Journal that “Huawei did not disclose this covert access to its local customers, or the host nation national-security agencies.”
Huawei has challenged the U.S. allegations of wrongdoing, stating it “has never and will never do anything that would compromise or endanger the security of networks and data of its clients.”
A Huawei official said to the Wall Street Journal, “No Huawei employee is allowed to access the network without an explicit approval from the network operator.”
However, the U.S. clearly does not trust Huawei’s statements and covert actions. The government has been working to remove and reduce the use of Huawei equipment from U.S. telecom networks. The Federal Communication Commission chairman Ajit Pai voiced suspicion of Huawei stating the company has “close ties to China’s Communist government and military apparatus” and “are subject to Chinese laws broadly obligating them to cooperate with any request from the country’s intelligence services and to keep those requests secret.”
The U.S. ban on Huawei equipment will hit small telecom carries the hardest, as these operators relied on the company’s low-cost gear. Big telecoms, like AT&T, will not be affected as they have steered clear of Huawei for several years, according to the Wall Street Journal.
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Author: Caleb Duffy
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