‘No Company Is Perfect’: Huawei Execs Respond To Allegations Employees Are Helping Surveil Dissidents

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Chris White Tech Reporter
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Huawei executives said in a report Wednesday that they are unable to ensure that their company’s employees are not assisting countries surveil political dissidents in foreign countries.

“No company is perfect,” Chief Security Officer Andy Purdy said in a CyberScoop report after being asked whether Huawei can ensure that its employees refrain from helping countries surveil opponents.

He did say the company has made improvements in boosting its ethics.

“It’s a major challenge within companies,” Purdy said. “I think in the last years I’ve been there we’ve dramatically improved our ability to have strong ethics and compliance.” (RELATED: Report Reveals Role Huawei Had In Transporting US Tech To Iran)

Purdy and vice president of Risk Management and Partner Relations Tim Danks addressed other issues as well. Purdy, for instance, suggested Huawei doesn’t keep tabs on how companies use the Chinese tech giant’s products.

“Generally around the world, we sell our products … we don’t know where this stuff is going to be used … I just don’t know,” he said. The Wall Street Journal reported in 2019 that Huawei employees assisted Uganda and Zambia in their attempts to surveil dissidents. The company said at the time that “its employees have not been engaged in any of the activities alleged.”

Purdy appeared to strike a slightly different note, telling CyberScoop that “no company can guarantee that individual employees won’t do bad things.” Danks, for his part, criticized the U.S. government, suggesting American officials are fear mongering.

“There’s a lot of sowing of FUD — fear, uncertainty and doubt — by putting something out like this,” Danks said when asked whether Huawei created a backdoor in mobile networks for the Chinese government. Purdy is a former Department of Homeland Security official and Danks is a long-time Huawei executive.

CyberScoop’s report comes a day after Reuters reported Tuesday that Huawei produced records 10 years ago that appear to show the telecommunications giant was directly involved in sending U.S. technology parts to Iranian phone companies.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is welcomed by Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson (Photo by Tolga Akmen– WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Huawei used Hewlett-Packard Co as a middleman to deliver parts to Iran’s largest mobile-phone operator, Reuters reported, citing documents dated 2010. Another memo two months later reportedly states: “Currently the equipment is delivered to Tehran, and waiting for the custom clearance.”

All of this comes as President Donald Trump and U.S. officials are applying pressure on foreign nations to avoid using Huawei’s technology to build out fifth-generation mobile service. Trump says Huawei represents a threat to national security, warning Beijing could direct the company to spy on Americans.

Trump’s attempts have met with varying degrees of success. British officials, for instance, announced in January that they plan to allow Huawei limited access to the country’s 5G networks, effectively dismissing U.S. pressure to avoid the telecommunications giant.

China has reportedly spent $24 billion more on wireless communications infrastructure since 2015 than the U.S. The country also built more 5G towers in a three-month span in 2017 than the U.S. did in three years. There are also concerns that Huawei’s and ZTE’s close ties to China leave the U.S. open to cyberattacks.

Huawei has not responded to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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