A lot of claims have been made regarding Huawei and their security, or lack thereof but the most recent claims by Washington Post will be damaging to the company. The publication claims that technicians from the company have assisted African governments spy on opponents on two different occasions.
Allegedly the technicians helped with interception of encrypted communications, social media and even tracking the whereabouts of politicians using cell data:
A pop star turned political sensation, Bobi Wine, had returned from Washington with U.S. backing for his opposition movement, and Uganda’s cyber-surveillance unit had strict orders to intercept his encrypted communications, using the broad powers of a 2010 law that gives the government the ability “to secure its multidimensional interests.
The Huawei technicians allegedly worked for two days with officials in the Ugandan intelligence and managed to access Mr Wine’s WhatsApp and Skype.
In Zambia, Huawei technicians allegedly assisted the government to access the phones & Facebook accounts of opposition bloggers. Again two Huawei “experts” managed to pinpoint the location of bloggers and were in contact with police officers deployed to arrest the bloggers.
Fortunately for Huawei, there hasn’t been any link showing that executives from the company knew that this was going on and the spying wasn’t on behalf of China. The only chink in Huawei’s armour will lie with the fact that the company has already had many questions asked of it regarding security and this will be yet another series of questions.
A Huawei spokesperson denied the allegations vehemently;
Huawei rejects completely these unfounded and inaccurate allegations against our business operations. Our internal investigation shows clearly that Huawei and its employees have not been engaged in any of the activities alleged. We have neither the contracts, nor the capabilities, to do so.
Huawei’s code of business conduct prohibits any employees from undertaking any activities that would compromise our customers or end users data or privacy or that would breach any laws. Huawei prides itself on its compliance with local regulations and laws in all markets where it operates.
The possibility of Huawei interfering with local politics is terrifying largely because the telecoms company provides hundreds of millions of African’s with connectivity. They are said to have built telecoms networks in 40 of 54 countries on the continent. Last January, government-owned NetOne signed a $71 million network expansion deal with Huawei.