No Huawei ‘smoking gun’ in Europe, French cybersecurity chief says
- Huawei, the world’s largest telecoms gear supplier, has repeatedly denied that its products posed any kind of security threat
France’s cybersecurity chief said his agency has not uncovered any evidence of Huawei Technologies spying via Europe’s telecommunications networks, shrugging off US and German concerns.
Guillaume Poupard, the head of the national cybersecurity agency ANSSI, spoke following reports of a US document transmitted to Germany, citing evidence of Huawei spying through its equipment.
“There is no Huawei smoking gun as of today in Europe,” Poupard said in an interview with Bloomberg News. “There is no situation with Huawei being caught massively spying in Europe. Elsewhere maybe it’s different, but not in Europe.”
Shenzhen-based Huawei has repeatedly denied that its products posed any kind of security threat. The US government has recently put pressure on its allies to avoid using the Chinese technology giant’s equipment in their 5G infrastructure.
Poupard acknowledged that Huawei may have held discussions with the Chinese state, but said Chinese national security laws require all domestic organisations to cooperate with the national intelligence service.
“The fact that Huawei discusses with the Chinese state, it’s normal,” he said. “It’s a Chinese company, and the law forces them to. It’s no use reproaching them for that; we just have to include that as an existing setting.”
Huawei said the company’s relationship with the Chinese government is no different from any other private company operating in China.
“We have never received any order from the Chinese government in the last 30 years,” the company said. “Huawei is a 100 per cent privately owned company.”
Germany’s spy chief has previously said Huawei “can’t fully be trusted”. A Handelsblatt report this week cited a classified note from the German Foreign Office that stated it received last year intelligence from the US about Huawei cooperating with China’s security agencies.
Bloomberg reported last year that from 2009 to 2011, Vodafone Group – one of the world’s most powerful and far-reaching telecoms services providers – found vulnerabilities that could have given Huawei access to its fixed-line network in Italy, according to security briefing documents from the London-based company. Vodafone Group said the issues were resolved.
In May, the Dutch newspaper Volkskrant reported an alleged Huawei “back door” in the network of a major telecoms firm in the Netherlands. It said the Dutch intelligence service, the AIVD, was investigating whether the breach had enabled spying by the Chinese government.
The European Union, as well as Britain, this week unveiled their recommendations for regulating telecoms equipment for 5G mobile networks. French rules stipulate that non-European actors will not be allowed in core networks, and also in certain cities, including Paris. French and European regulations never name Huawei in their public documentation.
Huawei is currently suing critics in France who alleged it has ties to the Chinese state. In March last year, the company filed three defamation claims in Paris over comments made during television programmes by a French researcher, a broadcast journalist and a telecoms sector expert.