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Huawei irate as US intelligence chiefs warn against its products

15 February 2018

Huawei has responded to claims from top US intelligence agencies that it poses a potential risk, telling TechRadar it "poses no greater cyber security risk than any ICT (information and communications technology) vendor".

On Tuesday six directors of US agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the National Security Agency jointly claimed Chinese phone manufacturers pose a security risk to everyday consumers.

The intelligence chiefs told the Senate Intelligence Committee they would not advise Americans to use products or services from Chinese smartphone maker Huawei.

"We're deeply concerned about the risks of allowing any company or entity that is beholden to foreign governments that don't share our values to gain positions of power inside our telecommunications networks," FBI Director Chris Wray testified.

"That provides the capacity to exert pressure or control over our telecommunications infrastructure," Wray said. "It provides the capacity to maliciously modify or steal information. And it provides the capacity to conduct undetected espionage."

A Huawei spokesman said in a statement, "Huawei is aware of a range of US government activities seemingly aimed at inhibiting Huawei's business in the US market. Huawei is trusted by governments and customers in 170 countries worldwide and poses no greater cybersecurity risk than any ICT vendor, sharing as we do common global supply chains and production capabilities."

A Huawei statement said, ''We are committed to openness and transparency in everything we do. Ultimately, Huawei will continue to develop its global business through a significant commitment to innovation and R&D and to delivering technology that helps our customers succeed in all markets that value the innovation and value it delivers.''

Huawei has been trying to enter the US market, first through a partnership with AT&T that was ultimately called off. At the time, Huawei said its products would still launch on American markets.

Last month, Huawei chief executive Richard Yu raged against American carriers, accusing them of depriving customers of choice. Reports said US lawmakers urged AT&T to pull out of the deal.

At the hearing, the intelligence chiefs commended American telecom companies for their measured resistance to the Chinese companies.

"This is a challenge I think that is only going to increase, not lessen over time for us," said Adm Michael Rogers, the NSA's director. "You need to look long and hard at companies like this."

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