U.S., UK remain concerned about Huawei
U.S. officials said in late March 2019 that they still have security concerns about Huawei, but they acknowledged they must find a way to coexist with the Chinese telecommunications giant.
Until the end of March 2019, the U.S was trying to convince the European Union that Huawei could not be trusted. U.S. officials urged countries to drop Huawei from their 5G networks because they feared it might support the People’s Republic of China in spying.
The United Kingdom did not need convincing. The U.K. already had condemned Huawei as “bringing significantly increased risk to U.K. operators,” Forbes magazine reported.
Representatives of telecommunications competitors, including AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, complained that Huawei was using its existing equipment to pressure countries to adopt its 5G technology.
“If you have deployed Huawei as your 4G network, Huawei is not allowing interoperability to 5G — meaning if you are 4G, you are stuck with Huawei for 5G,” Stephenson said in a speech in Washington, D.C., Reuters reported.
Now, U.S. officials concede they will have to adapt to a world in which Huawei is a dominant player.
“We are going to have to figure out a way in a 5G world that we’re able to manage the risks in a diverse network that includes technology that we can’t trust,” said Sue Gordon, the principal deputy director of national intelligence for the U.S. While Gordon did not specifically mention Huawei, there could be no mistaking the reference.
The British remain skeptical of the company. In the U.K., the Huawei Cyber Security Evaluation Centre Oversight Board reported in April 2019 that Huawei’s approach to software development brings “significantly increased risk to U.K. operators, which requires ongoing management and mitigation,” according to IT World Canada.
The board said Huawei’s engineering processes fall short of industry-standard practices and that the company has made “no material progress” since a similar report in 2018.
Within the next 10 years, U.S. officials predict that 5G-powered networks will drive factories, infrastructure, utilities, refineries, telecommunications and traffic management. The networks will also be a crucial tool in establishing the use of autonomous vehicles.
The 5G debate has not been the only concern raised about Huawei:
- Microsoft recently discovered an insecure driver loaded on Huawei Matebook computer systems. The driver would have given higher access to people lacking supervisor privileges. Huawei has since fixed the application.
- In a civil lawsuit in 2017, Huawei was determined to have stolen proprietary testing technology from T-Mobile, an American wireless carrier. While a jury ordered Huawei to pay U.S. $4.8 million, the court decided there had been no malicious conduct on the part of the Chinese company.
- Huawei, The Economist magazine reported, has been accused of defrauding four major banks into clearing transactions that violate international sanctions on Iran. In December 2018, Canadian police arrested Huawei’s chief financial officer at the request of the U.S. on the Iran allegations.