America and its allies are increasing pressure on tech giant Huawei to reveal details about its work for China.
The Trump administration and other critics hope to prove Huawei is a stooge of China’s communist regime.
The Federal Communications Commission labeled Huawei a “national security risk” because of its close ties to Beijing, and a German judge’s recent ruling could force the company to reveal exactly what information it hands over to the Chinese government.
Security officials have raised alarms that Huawei, the world’s leading provider of 5G networking equipment, is becoming a gatekeeper of global telecom and could give Beijing access to and control over rivals’ communications and GPS data, including military data.
The FCC’s latest actions prevent telecommunications providers from using government subsidies in the multibillion-dollar Universal Service Fund to buy, obtain or modify equipment with anything produced by Huawei or the ZTE Corp.
“Both companies have close ties to the Chinese Communist Party and China’s military apparatus, and both companies are broadly subject to Chinese law obligating them to cooperate with the country’s intelligence services,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement. “We cannot and will not allow the Chinese Communist Party to exploit network vulnerabilities and compromise our critical infrastructure.”
Huawei did not respond to The Washington Times’ requests for comment.
The company has repeatedly argued that shutting it out of the global marketplace will not remove the ability for governments to take control of hardware and software. Huawei Technologies USA’s chief security officer, Andy Purdy, last week told Vice’s Motherboard tech column that five nations already have the ability to implant that hidden functionality, a claim he has previously made without identifying the five countries.
Mr. Pai said the U.S. government’s actions to crack down on Huawei were made in consultation with America’s allies, the intelligence community, Congress and the executive branch.
Germany may soon succeed in forcing Huawei to reveal details about its relationship with the Chinese government. A little-noticed German judge’s ruling this year could force Huawei to reveal what data the company kept on a former manager and whether it turned any information over to the Chinese government. The former manager’s case received new attention last week after the manager anonymously disclosed details of his fight with Huawei to European reporters.
Whether or not Huawei reveals new details publicly, America’s tech titans and former government officials say they know the company is operating at the behest of the Chinese regime.
“Huawei’s cooperation with the Chinese Communist Party is enshrined in the National Intelligence Law of the People’s Republic, which mandates that any organization or citizen must support, assist, and cooperate with intelligence work,” said former Rep. Mike Rogers, Michigan Republican and chairman of advocacy group 5G Action Now. “It also appears to be the only law they will follow. Huawei does not care for national or international law, won’t protect consumer data or privacy, steals intellectual property, incentivizes trade secret theft, launders money, and violates sanctions.”
Mr. Rogers, former chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence before leaving Congress in 2015, said an American, British or German company with a track record akin to Huawei’s would not be in business very long.
The tech community appears to agree. Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt told the BBC that he was certain that the Chinese government had its hands on data collected by Huawei.
“There’s no question that information from Huawei routers has ultimately ended up in hands that would appear to be the state,” Mr. Schmidt told the BBC. “However that happened, we’re sure it happened.”
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