Huawei Says Australian Security Fears ‘Ill-Informed’

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Australia is expected to ban Huawei from participating in the construction of its 5G mobile network

Chinese telecoms maker Huawei has criticised negative comments by the Australian government, ahead of an expected decision to ban the company from participating in building out the country’s 5G networks.

Australian government figures commented that Huawei could be banned from the country’s 5G networks over national security concerns.

The restrictions on Huawei in Australia follow others in the UK and the US and a broader rise in controls on international trade worldwide.

In an open letter to Australian members of Parliament, Huawei said the government’s concerns are “ill informed and not based on facts”.

Security fears

It pointed out that Huawei is Australia’s largest wireless technology provider and said half of all Australians use the company’s products for their daily communications usage on the Vodafone, Optus, and TPG networks.

Huawei’s hardware has been incorporated within the national security frameworks of Germany, the UK, Spain, Canada, New Zealand and Italy, according to the letter from Huawei Australia’s board.

The company offered to set up an evaluation centre enabling the government to carry out security testing on its hardware, something that has led to 5G deals in the UK, Canada and New Zealand, the letter says.

Last week by Australia’s shadow minister for defence Richard Marles spoke approvingly of a Huawei 5G ban, citing a 2012 ban imposed by the then-Labour government that prevented Huawei from bidding on the National Broadband Network (NBN) on national security grounds.

Earlier this year Australia decided to use millions in foreign aid funding rather than allow Huawei to build a high-speed subsea cable between Australia, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.

Huawei notably faces restrictions in the US, where it is effectively banned from selling equipment and smartphones due to security fears.

Ironically, the Shenzhen-based firm was founded in 1987 in order to curb China’s dependence at the time on equipment supplied by overseas companies.

It is now the world’s largest telecoms equipment manufacturer, and the second-largest smartphone maker after Apple.

Kaspersky Lab protests EU criticism

The comments by Huawei follow a move by Russian security software maker Kaspersky Lab to cease all collaboration with European organisations following a European Parliament motion that labelled its software as “malicious”.

The accusation was “untrue” and showed a “distinct lack of respect”, Kaspersky said.

On 13 June the European Parliament adopted a cyber-security defence motion citing the “unprecedented threat” of state-sponsored hacking, and calling for a review of hardware and software used in its institutions to eliminate “potentially dangerous programmes and devices”.

The measure calls for a ban on programs and equipment “confirmed as malicious”, naming only one software firm, Kaspersky Lab.

The UK and the US have recently taken measures to remove Kaspersky software from government systems and to restrict its sales to consumers.

Kaspersky founder Eugene Kaspersky said in a statement the company would stop working with agencies such as Europol until it receives “official clarification” from the European Parliament about the motion.

“We have showed time and again that we disclose cyber-threats regardless of origin and author, even to our own detriment,” Kaspersky said.

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