Dutch Report Flagged Huawei Monitoring Of KPN Concerns – Report

Huawei is once again the spotlight after it was alleged earlier this week that the Chinese networking giant may have had access to the calls of a leading Dutch mobile operator.

The Guardian reported this week on a media article by Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant, which had apparently seen a confidential report made for operator KPN by the Capgemini consultancy firm way back in 2010.

The report claimed that Huawei could have allegedly been monitoring calls of KPN’s 6.5 million users without its knowledge.

Alleged eavesdropping

The report apparently claimed that conversations that Huawei staff in the Netherlands and China could have monitored.

This reportedly included calls made by the then prime minister, Jan Peter Balkenende, and Chinese dissidents, the report alleged.

While KPN acknowledged the existence of the report, it said on Monday it had “never observed that Huawei took client information”, adding that none of its suppliers had “unauthorised, uncontrolled or unlimited access to our networks and systems”, the Guardian reported.

Huawei meanwhile reportedly rejected any claim that it could have eavesdropped on KPN users.

“We have never been accused by government bodies of acting in an unauthorised way,” it was quoted as saying.

The article said that KPN had started using Huawei technology in 2009 and commissioned the report after the Dutch domestic intelligence service, AIVD, warned of possible espionage.

The report also found Huawei could access numbers being tapped by Dutch security services.

The report findings put “the continued existence of KPN Mobile in serious danger” since users “may lose confidence … if it becomes known the Chinese government can monitor KPN mobile numbers,” the report concluded.

The report was never made public the Guardian reported, and KPN continued to award several contracts for parts of its core 3G and 4G networks to Huawei after receiving the Capgemini report.

Security reports

In April 2019, Belgium’s cybersecurity centre said it found no evidence that telecoms equipment from Huawei could be used for espionage purposes.

At the same time the Netherlands said it had formed a task force to study the issue in greater depth.

A few months later in July 2019 the Dutch task force recommended stronger vetting of telecoms equipment suppliers, but did not ban Huawei.

But in October 2020, KPN became one of the first European operators to exclude the Chinese company from its core 5G network, and opted instead for Sweden’s Ericsson.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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