'Prism, Prism on the wall, who is the most trustworthy of them all?' Huawei hits back at US over 5G security claims

MWC 2019: Huawei chairman Guo Ping hits back at security accusations from the US - and reminds audience of the Edward Snowden revelations.
Written by Danny Palmer, Senior Writer

Chinese telecoms giant Huawei has once again defended its stance on security, insisting that it never has and never will spy on its customers on the behalf of the Chinese government.

Speaking about the challenges of cybersecurity during a keynote address at Mobile World Congress 2019 in Barcelona, Guo Ping, rotating chairman of the Chinese smartphones-to-5G-networks company, insisted it doesn't use its privileged position to spy on its users around the world.

"We don't do bad things," he said "Huawei has not and will never plant back doors and we will never allow anyone to do so in our equipment. We take this responsibility very seriously."

Arguing that cybersecurity is a shared responsibility, Ping urged security companies, telecoms providers and governments to work together to build safer networks — especially with regards to 5G.

As work starts on 5G networks, some governments have been increasingly concerned about whether Huawei technology should be used in such critical infrastructure, largely because of fears that the Chinese government could at some point demand access. Australia has blocked Huawei from its 5G networks on national security grounds, and last year the New Zealand authorities rejected a request by one operator to use Huawei kit in its 5G network. 

The US has long had concerns about the Chinese networking giant, banning it from government contracts back in 2014. More recently it has been increasing pressure on countries including the UK to dump Huawei; a review by the UK government is due in the spring

SEE: IT pro's guide to the evolution and impact of 5G technology (free PDF)

However, Ping insisted that Huawei has done nothing wrong. "Huawei has a strong track record in security for three decades. The US accusations over our 5G have no evidence, nothing," he said.

Ping first appeared to attempt to make light of the ongoing row — "There has never been more interest in Huawei, we must be doing something right," he said — but later took a more direct aim at the US and some of its own issues with cybersecurity and surveillance.

"Prism, Prism on the wall, who is the most trustworthy of them all?" he said, referencing the previously secret National Security Agency surveillance project, telling the audience to ask Edward Snowden — the whistleblower who revealed the activity — if they didn't understand what he meant.

Ping also took aim at the US Cloud Act, arguing that the legislation allows the US government to demand access data held by US companies, even if it is stored in different countries.

"The Cloud Act allows them to access data cross-borders. So for best technology and for greater security, please choose Huawei," he said.


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