Huawei Isn't Trustworthy 5G Partner, German Spy Agency Says
(Bloomberg) -- Huawei Technologies Co. isn’t a trustworthy partner to build Germany’s fifth-generation mobile networks, a representative of the country’s BND intelligence service told a committee of lawmakers.
Past “security-relevant incidents” involving the company are part of the reason, the representative told the committee in Berlin on Wednesday. An official from the Foreign Ministry, speaking at the same meeting, said it would be hard to work with a company that cooperates with its national secret service. The parliamentary press service reported the comments in a statement but didn’t name the officials.
“It’s above all a matter of trustworthiness and of the impact on our relationship with our allies,” the Foreign Ministry official told the committee, adding that Germany is in contact with partner nations on the issue.
German intelligence officials have been pushing the government to stop Huawei from playing a part in the building of 5G infrastructure in the country, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg News this month. The officials are concerned that Huawei could help China steal German corporate secrets, the people said.
Huawei has repeatedly denied wrongdoing and long maintained it doesn’t provide back doors for the Chinese government, pointing out that no one has provided evidence to support such concerns.
An outright ban on Huawei is seen as legally impossible, but German officials are looking at tools that would have the same effect. The U.S. has been pressuring its allies in Europe to ban Chinese equipment in the ultrafast networks being rolled out over spying concerns.
Germany’s Bundesnetzagentur regulator said last week that it wants to limit equipment supply to “trustworthy” vendors that comply with national safety regulations as well as secrecy and privacy rules. Germany plans to start an auction of 5G airwaves on March 19, though legal challenges to its design by multiple carriers risk delaying the process.
--With assistance from Stefan Nicola.
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