According to a report by The Wall Street Journal, U.S. officials say they have evidence that Chinese telecom and 5G network systems giant Huawei has secret back doors into mobile networks that it maintains across the globe.
The accusations from the U.S. arrive after years of tensions between the U.S. and China that have been escalating in recent months with the Trump administration releasing an executive order in May prohibiting American companies from licensing their technology to Huawei.
More recently, the U.S. expressed disappointment and concern after U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to allow Huawei into Britain’s development of their 5G capabilities — a decision the U.S. lobbied heavily against — with a limited 35% stake in the network.
This latest news however, is the clearest sign yet of the hostilities between the Chinese company and the U.S. government, with specific accusations leveled and claims of evidence publicly declared.
“We have evidence that Huawei has the capability secretly to access sensitive and personal information in systems it maintains and sells around the world,” national security adviser Robert O’Brien said in a statement to The Wall Street Journal.
The claims assert that Huawei has back doors it builds into its networks, and uses them to covertly obtain data from its customers.
Though there is no indication that these supposed capabilities have been used by Huawei, officials commenting to the Journal said that Huawei’s customers are not aware of the level of access the company has to their data.
“We vigorously deny the allegation that we retain any such capability,” said Huawei’s security chief, Andy Purdy, in an interview with The Verge. “We also deny that we have ever improperly accessed customer information or customer data,” he added.
Purdy went on to say that Huawei isn’t surprised by the claims being made by the U.S., blaming them on the rising tension between the U.S. and China.
“The US is committed to this, and I think it’s really prompted by the geopolitical situation between China and the US,” Purdy told The Verge. “The US is unwilling to consider the facts and the evidence, and they’re going to do whatever they can to block our ability to provide products to communication networks around the world.”