Huawei tells government its tech will never be used for spying

Written by Sam Trendall on 7 February 2019 in News
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Chinese networking titan claims that it would ‘categorically refuse’ any requests to assist in intelligence-gathering

Chinese IT firm Huawei has told the UK government that it “has never and will never” allow its technology to be used for spying.

In response to questions from the parliamentary Science and Technology Committee, Ryan Ding, president of Huawei’s carrier business group, said that the firm has never used its products to gather intelligence information “in the UK or anywhere else globally”. Nor will it do so in the future, he added.

Ding also addressed “concerns about China’s national intelligence law” by asserting that there is no law by which the Chinese authorities can compel IT firms to “install backdoors” in their technology to enable covert data-gathering. This interpretation is endorsed by Chinese law firm Zhong Lun and by London-based Clifford Chance, he said.

“We would like to reiterate that Huawei has never received any such requests, and in the event that we did receive this type of request, we would categorically refuse to comply with it,” Ding added. 

Elsewhere in his letter to committee chair Norman Lamb, the Huawei representative responded to technical security concerns raised in the recent annual report from the oversight board of the Huawei Cyber Security Evaluation Centre – which was set up by government in 2010 to keep tabs on the company’s government work and mitigate “the perceived risks” to the UK therein.


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The report of the board – which is chaired by National Cyber Security Centre chief executive Ciaran Martin – found that “technical issues have been identified in Huawei’s engineering processes, leading to new risks in the UK telecommunications networks”.

It added: “Due to areas of concern exposed through the proper functioning of the mitigation strategy and associated oversight mechanisms, the oversight board can provide only limited assurance that all risks to UK national security from Huawei’s involvement in the UK’s critical networks have been sufficiently mitigated.”

Ding acknowledged that “Huawei’s software engineering has room for improvement”.

“The company will initially invest $2bn (£1.55bn) over the next five years to comprehensively improve our software engineering capabilities,” he said. “This will help ensure that our products are better prepared for a more complex security environment both now and in the future.”

Ding added: “This programme is part of a broader effort to redesign our integrated product development process. Technology and networking environments are evolving. Customer and societal expectations for technology are evolving too, as are regulatory requirements. In recognition of these changes, we too are evolving our processes.”

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Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology

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