'No evidence' of Huawei spying, says German IT watchdog

Friday December 14 2018

Huawei store in Beijing

This photo taken on December 10, 2018 shows people walking past a Huawei store in Beijing. PHOTO | GREG BAKER | AFP 

AFP
By AFP
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FRANKFURT AM MAIN,

Germany's IT watchdog has expressed scepticism about calls for a boycott of Chinese telecoms giant Huawei, saying it has seen no evidence the firm could use its equipment to spy for Beijing, news weekly Spiegel reported Friday.

"For such serious decisions like a ban, you need proof," the head of Germany's Federal Office for Information Security (BSI), Arne Schoenbohm, told Spiegel, adding that his agency had no such evidence.

SCRUTINY

Huawei has faced increasing scrutiny over its alleged links to Chinese intelligence services, prompting countries like the United States, Australia and Japan to block it from building their next-generation, super-fast 5G internet networks.

The US has put pressure on Germany to follow suit, Spiegel wrote.

Ms Schoenbohm said BSI experts had examined Huawei products and components from around the world.

They had also visited Huawei's newly opened lab in Bonn, where German clients can inspect the firm's cyber security measures and the software behind its products.

But some observers raised eyebrows at the BSI's apparent dismissal of cyber security risks concerning Huawei.

"I believe it's wrong to suggest that the concerns about Chinese espionage are unfounded and easy to detect," telecom security expert Ronja Kniep told AFP.

"Even if Huawei has no official relationship with the Chinese government, that doesn't mean Chinese services aren't using the company and its technology as vehicles for espionage."

All three of Germany's main mobile network operators use infrastructure provided by Huawei, Spiegel pointed out.

The Chinese firm is also the brand behind some of Germany's most popular mobile phones.