Huawei reportedly cleared of spying in White House review

Huawei reportedly cleared of spying in White House review

Summary: There was reportedly no evidence that Huawei was spying on the US for China in the White House review of telecommunications suppliers.

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A White House review of the risks of suppliers to US telecommunications companies found no evidence that Huawei is guilty of spying on the United States, according to a report.

(Credit: Huawei)

According to sources speaking to Reuters, the review instead found that sloppy coding left vulnerabilities in Huawei equipment that would be open to hacking. But the sources could not say whether this was deliberate on the part of Huawei.

The sources said that the — mostly classified — White House inquiry probed 1,000 telecommunications equipment buyers seeking to find evidence of spying or espionage for the Chinese government, but none was forthcoming.

A local Huawei spokesperson told ZDNet that the company is not surprised by the reported lack of evidence.

"I'm not at all surprised by articles stating that there was no evidence of spying found by the committee — if they had any evidence, it would have been in that report. The committee's report needs to be called for what it really is: an exercise in protectionism masquerading as a report on cybersecurity."

The report comes just over a week after the release of a US House of Representatives Intelligence Committee report, which found that Huawei and fellow Chinese telecommunications supplier ZTE pose a risk to US national security, and recommended that both suppliers be excluded from providing equipment for US government systems. The 52-page report (PDF) also advises private companies to reconsider using Huawei and ZTE networking equipment, and recommends that the companies be blocked from mergers and acquisitions in the US.

Although that review offered no substantial evidence that Huawei or ZTE were spying, the report referred to a "confidential annex" that "provides significantly more information adding to the committee's concerns" about the companies. The committee stated in its report that it was unsatisfied with the level of cooperation and candour provided by the companies, as neither was "forthcoming with detailed information about its formal relationships or regulatory interaction with Chinese authorities."

In Australia, the federal government has banned Huawei from tendering for the AU$37.4 billion National Broadband Network (NBN). Similar to the US report, the Australian government has not been forthcoming with reasons or evidence on why Huawei was banned, despite multiple Freedom of Information (FOI) requests. The Attorney-General's Department has said that it was acting on advice from the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO).

When questioned in Senate Estimates this week on whether the advice given to government was related to political or security issues, ASIO's director-general of Security David Irvine said that it is a security issue.

"ASIO's advice to government on this and other matters is based solely on security matters," he said on Tuesday.

Irvine could not say whether ASIO recommended the ban or not, and could not recall when the advice was given. He said that Huawei's decision to appoint an Australian board of directors would have had little impact on the advice given by ASIO.

"ASIO's advice is formed on a whole set of what we believe are objective considerations. I do not believe that the make-up of a board would necessarily impact on those considerations and that objectivity in any way."

The UK parliament's intelligence and security committee is now also set to launch its own investigation into Huawei's relationship with the country's largest telecommunications company, BT. Huawei is currently a major supplier for BT's fibre broadband network, and the company's 4G long-term evolution (LTE) network.

The Canadian government has also hinted that it may invoke a "national security exception" for hiring companies to build communications infrastructure, but didn't name Huawei as one of the major concerns.

Topics: Security, Government, Government US, Networking

About

Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

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11 comments
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  • BUT.. . BUT.. . THE RUMOURS.. .!!!

    What about all the hysteria and hoo-hah from the US Congress? Are you trying to say they were COMPLETELY UNFOUNDED!?! But how can that be? Surely the fact that they were MAKING ACCUSATIONS should be reason enough to take them seriously, right? After all, when have politicians ever disregarded facts in favour of a good witch-hunt?
    ldo17
    • Yes, it was completely uninformed

      Many US Senators and Reps, especially on the Republican side, are "RAH RAH RAH! USA USA USA U S A! We beat everyone! WE ARE BETTER THAN EVERYONE! USA USA USA U S A!"

      I'm quite serious about the above. In the real world, the United States does not do most things better than foreign countries or at least not to an extent that our prices should be 3-5 times what other countries charge for the same services.
      Lerianis10
  • Well there's a shocker considering how much chicom money obama

    has pouring into his campaign coffers.
    Johnny Vegas
  • Anybody remember the Tibetian monks

    who have a vow of poverty, dumping millions into Internet-founder Al Gore's campaign?
    Tony Burzio
    • That money was coming from donations

      From various people to the Tibetan monks and then they were giving it to the Obama campaign. Probably a dodge by some corporation over in Taiwan but still legal.
      Lerianis10
      • Probably not

        Foreign money into US elections ... not legal, is it?

        Although Obama's web site is still accepting unverified (foreign) donations, for some reason.
        harvey_rabbit
  • Dont miss the key bit of information

    Every country has referred to a classified report that probably does contain enough to give the countries pause, even if not easily provable espionage.
    soap.au
    • With all due respect, that 'classified report'

      Was written by conservative people in the government. That has already been exposed, that bias because the names of the report writers were given on another website.

      You cannot trust people from the US military-industrial complex to actually tell you the truth today, because there are no punishments if they do not tell the truth.
      Lerianis10
      • Riiight

        Those conservatives wrote a report saying Huawei is cleared of accusations of spying?

        Makes sense. To someone, I'm sure.
        harvey_rabbit
        • legalese

          All accused individuals or entities that were never caught conducting acts of espionage are safe from the consequences of any proven accusations if established subsequent to their own relocation to a jurisdiction not beholden to those consequences (including their own demise), thus effectively cleared.
          Proven spys or spying entities falling under this classification have achieved, at least, the minimum definition of success, not being caught in the act.
          Stroyde
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