The heads of top six U.S. intelligence agencies warned people against using Huawei phones during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Tuesday, reports CNBC.
Huawei is a multi-national technological giant which started out as a telecommunications hardware producer in the 1970s by an engineer working for the People Liberation’s Army in China, but has since moved out to virtually every aspect of the business, manufacturing communications devices for the consumer market.
In fact, last year Huawei surpassed Apple in becoming the world’s second-largest smartphone maker after Samsung. The company has operations in 170 countries, but has often found it tough to make inroads in the American market, primarily because of a widespread mistrust that exists among members of the intelligence community about its purported ties to the Chinese government.
During the testimony, FBI Director Chris Wray said he remained “deeply concerned about the risks of allowing any company or entity that is beholden to foreign governments that don’t share our values to gain positions of power inside our telecommunications networks.” He said doing so would provide companies like Huawei the “capacity to maliciously modify or steal information. And it provides the capacity to conduct undetected espionage.”
The pervading mistrust about Huawei’s purported ties to the Chinese government has led the United States to take some stern actions against the company in the past. In 2014, for instance, the United States placed a ban on Huawei bidding for government contracts, and just last month, AT&T pulled out of a deal to launch the mobile company’s flagship in the U.S., Mate 10 Pro, at the last minute.
Some American politicians believe granting Huawei a consumer market in the United States would help China spy on us. Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton went so far as to call it “an arm of the Chinese government,” saying if Chinese companies like Huawei and ZTE were granted unrestricted access to the American market, they would begin hacking their consumers’ devices.
“The focus of my concern today is China, and specifically Chinese telecoms like Huawei and ZTE, that are widely understood to have extraordinary ties to the Chinese government,” echoed Republican Senator Richard Burr, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
When reached for comment, Huawei told the Verge that allegations regarding its ties to the Chinese government were baseless, and that if the governments of 170 countries could trust the tech giant, why couldn’t the U.S.?