Czech public radio says Huawei Czech Unit secretly collected data

Pierluigi Paganini July 23, 2019

New problems for Huawei, the Czech unit of telecoms giant secretly collected personal data customers, officials and business partners.

Huawei made the headlines again, according to the Czech public radio the Czech unit of Chinese telecoms giant secretly collected personal data of customers, officials, and business partners.

The radio cited two former Huawei managers as the source, the duo speaking on condition of anonymity revealed that Huawei required them to enter the data into computer systems that could be accessed from China.

“Managers who worked for the company for many years told our reporters that they had been forced to enter people’s personal data into a system that was separate from commercial data,” states the report.

The managers explained that the information collected by the company included the number of children, financial situation, and hobbies of persons of interest. 

“Access to this information in the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is only managed by Huawei headquarters in China,” revealed one of managers.

According to the AFP press, Czech unit declared that it was in compliance with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

In December 2018, the Czech National Cyber and Information Security Agency warned against using the equipment manufactured by Chinese firms Huawei and ZTE because they pose a threat to state security.

The main issue is a legal and political environment of the People’s Republic of China, where (the) aforementioned companies primarily operate,” reads a statement issued by the Czech National Cyber and Information Security Agency.

“China’s laws, among other things, require private companies residing in China to cooperate with intelligence services, therefore introducing them into the key state systems might present a threat,” 

According to the Czech News Agency (CTK), the Czech branch of the Chinese Telco giant Huawei refused any accusation and asked the agency to offer proof of the alleged espionage activities for the Chinese intelligence. 

“The warning comes on the heels of a Czech intelligence report which warned about increased spying activities of Chinese diplomats in the EU and NATO member state of 10.6 million people.” reported the AFP press.

The US first, and many other countries after, have decided to ban network equipment manufactured by the Chinese telecom giant Huawei.

In November 2018, the Wall Street Journal reported that the US Government was urging its allies, including Germany, to exclude Huawei from critical infrastructure and 5G architectures.

The Chinese firm was already excluded by several countries from building their 5G internet networks. The United StatesAustraliaNew Zealand, and Japan announced the exclusion of Huawei technology for their 5G internet networks.

Huawei Dutch intelligence

The United States first highlighted the risks for national security in case of adoption of Huawei equipment and is inviting internet providers and telco operators in allied countries to ban the company.

Anyway, some countries in Europe decided to not exclude Huawei from building national 5G networks, such as Germany and the UK.

Europeans are divided on the issue, with Germany having in principle accepted Huawei’s participation in the construction of its 5G network.

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Pierluigi Paganini

(SecurityAffairs – Huawei, cyberspionage)

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