February 14, 2020 / 1:31 PM / 9 days ago

Huawei cyber security chief says no operator gives it access to intercept equipment

LONDON (Reuters) - Huawei’s cyber security chief said on Friday that he was not aware of any mobile operator ever having given the Chinese company access to the equipment used to intercept calls when required to do so by security services.

FILE PHOTO: The Huawei logo is seen on a communications device in London, Britain, January 28, 2020. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo

United States officials told the Wall Street Journal this week that Huawei could covertly access communications using the equipment that networks were legally obliged to install to allow access by law enforcement services.

Huawei rejected the allegation.

“We have no access to this equipment, we don’t know what call or information is being intercepted, we don’t know when it is intercepted - all we do is provide one side of the box which is blind to what’s happening on the other side of the box,” John Suffolk told reporters.

Suffolk said Huawei did not make the equipment that network operators used to intercept communications if required, adding that the United States had not produced any evidence to support any of its allegations.

“We just say: ‘Don’t hide it, don’t be shy. Publish it, let the world see it’,” he said.

The official said Huawei’s equipment had to be connected, but he did not know how close it was to the “lawful intercept gateway”, which was often located in a special room because of the sensitivity.

“I’m not aware of any operator who has said to Huawei: ‘Come and sit in this room and see what’s going on’,” he said.

“If I found out that our staff were involved with such things, then we would take appropriate action on that.”

Suffolk said governments and operators were “smart”, and were supporting Huawei, which competes with Ericsson and Nokia in the telecoms equipment market.

He asked why, given the U.S. allegations, competitors were not growing at 30% or 40%.

“The faith of our customers, and you can see this in the results over the past 30 years, gives an indication of what our customers think of those allegations,” he said.

Reporting by Paul Sandle; Editing by Stephen Addison and Alexander Smith

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