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Huawei accused of helping North Korea build wireless network and unlawfully collecting users data in the Czech Republic

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Written by Asad Naseer

Huawei has been able to withstand the US government’s clampdown on its operations and call for a boycott of its products by other countries, mainly because there is hardly any evidence to show the company is involved in wrongdoing. That may change soon as fresh bombshell allegations have emerged that Huawei may have been dealing with North Korea illegally. The allegation also suggests Huawei may have been collecting users data in the Czech Republic unlawfully.

The two allegations were propagated by US and Czech media organizations recently. Perhaps the most damning is the allegation that Huawei had “secretly helped” North Korea build and maintain its commercial wireless network. The report carried by The Washington Post quotes sources and documents obtained from a former Huawei employee.

According to the report, Huawei partnered with Panda International Information Technology, a Chinese state-owned firm, on a number of projects spanning at least eight years. North Korea has been under extensive international sanctions over its nuclear weapons program and human rights abuses. Huawei’s alleged dealings raise questions if the company had used American technology in its components, which is a violation of US export controls.

Huawei has denied having any business presence in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. In a statement responding to the Washington Post article, the company stated; “Huawei is fully committed to complying with all applicable laws and regulations in the countries and regions where we operate, including all export control and sanction laws and regulations of the UN, US, and EU.”

While the storm about North Korea was still raging, a second report by Agence France-Presse claims an investigation conducted by Czech public radio found that the Czech unit of Huawei “secretly collected personal data of customers, officials, and business partners”.
Czech public radio cited two former Huawei managers who spoke on condition of anonymity to have hinted that Huawei required them to enter the data into computer systems that “is only managed by Huawei headquarters in China”, according to AFP. The personal information gathered included a number of children, hobbies and the financial situation of designated subjects, the report added.

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In response to Czech radio network’s report, Huawei said in a statement that it was in compliance with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation rules, which are designed to protect the privacy of EU citizens. “Huawei has never worked with any intelligence-gathering operations whether from the Chinese embassy or any other organization,” it said. “The way Huawei processes user data in the Czech Republic is in full compliance with all applicable Czech and EU laws.”

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Asad Naseer