US officials claim that Huawei has a secret capability to extract data from mobile networks globally through “back door” mechanisms that have been used for more than ten years, The Wall Street Journal first revealed. According to their report, this information remained highly classified until Washington decided to share the intelligence with its Western allies, including the UK and Germany, last year.
Some officials, including US National Security Adviser Robert C. O’Brien, maintain the US has evidence and can prove to its allies that Huawei can secretly retrieve “sensitive and personal” information in wireless 5G networks if granted access to the building of the necessary infrastructure.
“This is alarming because Chinese companies, by law, must comply with directives of the Chinese Communist Party”, O’Brien said on Tuesday, as quoted by The New York Times. “Strategically, we see a company that can use its position in the market to advance the aims of the Chinese Communist Party”.
According to US officials, the Chinese company has long had access to the “back doors” initially designed for use by law enforcement officials, but has been able to use them even without the knowledge or permission of national operators in countries where it has built its systems. Huawei officials have denied all these allegations.
The news comes after several American officials, including US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, and a number of other high-ranking representatives of the Trump administration travelled to London throughout January to warn its transatlantic partner about the dangers Huawei could pose to UK national security if allowed to take part in the building of its 5G infrastructure.
Despite the warnings, Boris Johnson’s government still allowed the Chinese company into Britain’s 5G networks, although in a limited capacity. Germany is also currently deciding on whether to work with the world’s leading 5G provider and according to reports, Berlin is inclined to grant Huawei access to its next-generation networks, despite Washington’s concerns.
So far, the Trump administration has maintained that it did not need to present any evidence about Huawei posing a threat to its allies and has just repeatedly argued that Huawei was required by Chinese law to provide Beijing with access to all of its data and information upon request. In May 2019, Washington blacklisted Huawei and 68 of its subsidiaries from working with American companies and called upon its allies to follow suit.
Both Beijing and Huawei officials have denied the accusations that the company has ever spied or intends to spy on foreign corporations and countries on behalf of the Chinese government.