Huawei: No government has asked for customer data

October 18, 2013 by Joe Mcdonald

Chinese tech giant Huawei said in a report Friday on cybersecurity that it never has been asked to provide information about a citizen to any government.

Huawei Technologies Ltd. has spent recent years trying to allay fears in the United States and some other countries that it is controlled by China's Communist Party or might be a security risk. Its statement Friday that it doesn't aid official information-gathering follows an outcry over disclosures about the role of Internet and telecoms companies in sweeping U.S. .

"We have never been asked to provide access to our technology, or provide any data or information on any citizen or organization to any ," said Huawei's deputy chairman, Ken Hu, in a foreword to the report.

The report, written by a Huawei executive who is a former British official, calls for companies and regulators to cooperate in setting global standards and for customers to press suppliers to improve security.

"The challenge is that we are producing too much guidance, too many frameworks, too many policies, but not really coalescing around the small number of things that make the biggest difference," said John Suffolk, the 's cyber security officer. He spoke by phone from Seoul, where he was attending an industry conference, Seoul Cyber 2013.

Huawei, founded by a former Chinese military engineer in 1987, has grown to become the world's second-largest supplier of telecoms network gear after Sweden's LM Ericsson. The company reported earlier its 2012 profit rose 33 percent over the previous year to 15.4 billion yuan ($2.4 billion) on sales of 220.2 billion yuan ($34.9 billion).

Huawei says it is owned by its employees and denies being controlled by China's ruling Communist Party or military. Suspicions about its activities have slowed its expansion in the United States and it was barred from bidding for a role in an Australian broadband network.

Since then, the industry has been shaken by disclosures by former National Security Agency systems analyst Edward Snowden about U.S. government surveillance and the role of Internet and telecoms companies that say they were legally compelled to cooperate.

Those disclosures have hurt trust in the industry and might increase use of measures Huawei has taken in hopes of allaying security fears, said John Suffolk, the company's global cyber security officer and author of Friday's report. Those include setting up centers in Britain and Canada for governments to study Huawei equipment.

"People who have posed these challenges to Huawei are now in essence saying this should be an industry-wide issue rather than just a focus on Huawei or China-based technology companies," said Suffolk.

"We're telling the world all of our processes," he said. "We believe more and more companies will have to follow the Huawei model, because the amount of trust in technology vendors has reduced."

In July, the British government's adviser, Kim Darroch, was assigned to review a cybersecurity center operated by Huawei after lawmakers argued it might be too dependent on the Chinese company's personnel to provide adequate . Darroch is due to report later this year.

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