Huawei Files Lawsuit Against US Government Over Security Ban

Huawei has sued the US government over a ban on the use of its telecoms products, its most aggressive move yet in efforts to push back against what it says are baseless US allegations against the firm.

The company said on Thursday it filed the lawsuit in the US district court in Plano, Texas, the Dallas suburb where its US headquarters are located, targeting a 2018 measure that bans US government agencies from buying Huawei equipment.

The National Defence Authorisation Act, signed in August of last year, also bars US government agencies from using third-party contractors who use Huawei products.

Huawei argues the act violates US constitutional provisions that declare an individual or group guilty of a crime without trial.

Ban ‘unlawful’

“This ban not only is unlawful, but also restricts Huawei from engaging in fair competition, ultimately harming US consumers,” said Huawei chairman Guo Ping.  “We look forward to the court’s verdict, and trust that it will benefit both Huawei and the American people.”

At a press conference in Shenzhen, Ping also said the US government had misled the public about his company and had hacked Huawei’s servers.

Huawei and ZTE have long been declared a national security threat in the US, and Huawei, which is the second-largest smartphone maker after Samsung, is effectively barred from selling its handsets in the country.

More recently the US has stepped up lobbying efforts to pressure allies to ban Huawei and other Chinese suppliers from participating in the build-out of 5G networks. Australia and New Zealand have banned Huawei from their next-generation networks, while other countries have put limitations into place.

Huawei has repeatedly denied it poses a threat, and in recent months has stepped up a campaign to improve its image in the West, flying journalists to its Shenzhen headquarters and taking out a full-page advert in The Wall Street Journal urging US readers not to “believe everything you hear”.

Conflicting claims

The company maintains security centres for the review of its products in the UK and elsewhere, and this week it opened a cybersecurity transparency centre in Brussels to facilitate communications with stakeholders.

“Huawei is not owned, controlled, or influenced by the Chinese government,” said Huawei chief legal officer Song Liuping on Thursday.  “Moreover, Huawei has an excellent security record and programme. No contrary evidence has been offered.”

He said the US action was based on “numerous false, unproven and untested propositions”.

The US has filed criminal charges against Huawei and its chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, who was arrested in Canada in December at the US’ request.

Last week Meng, who is the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, filed a civil claim against Canada’s government, border agency and police for detaining and interrogating her before informing her she was under arrest.

Canada also last week approved the beginning of her extradition process to the US.

Matthew Broersma

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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