In context: The US has long insisted that Huawei has backdoor access to the mobile-phone networks it helps build around the world. Now, national security officials say they have evidence of this and provided details to the UK and Germany.
"We have evidence that Huawei has the capability secretly to access sensitive and personal information in systems it maintains and sells around the world," US National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien told the Wall Street Journal.
Back in May last year, President Trump, citing a threat to national security, added Huawei to an entity list that effectively banned US companies from doing business with the firm. But the spying claims have gone back years, with officials claiming they’ve been aware of Huawei’s backdoor access "since observing it in 2009 in early 4G equipment."
The US has said it doesn’t need to show proof that Huawei can access the networks, and it still isn’t revealing the evidence, though it has been shared with other countries. “The US kept the intelligence highly classified until late last year, when American officials provided details to allies including the UK and Germany, according to officials from the three countries,” writes the Journal.
It’s noted that manufacturers who sell telecoms equipment to carriers must include backdoors for authorities to access the network for lawful purposes, but they "are also required to build equipment in such a way that the manufacturer can't get access without the consent of the network operator," the Journal added. Officials say Huawei’s equipment allows the company to access these networks without the carrier’s knowledge.
"Huawei does not disclose this covert access to its local customers, or the host nation national-security agencies,” an official said.
Germany and the UK were both warned by the US that it would withhold intel from the countries if they used Huawei’s equipment in their 5G networks. But last month, the UK government announced it would allow the firm to build parts of Britain’s 5G infrastructure, albeit with some restrictions.
Huawei has, of course, denied the new allegations. "No Huawei employee is allowed to access the network without an explicit approval from the network operator," a company official said.
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