AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – Chinese telecoms equipment maker Huawei has a hidden “backdoor” on the network of a major Dutch telecoms firm, making it possible to access customer data, newspaper De Volkskrant said on Thursday, citing unidentified intelligence sources.
A man walks past surveillance cameras displayed at a Huawei booth at an exhibition during the World Intelligence Congress in Tianjin, China May 16, 2019. REUTERS/Jason Lee
The newspaper said Dutch intelligence agency AIVD was looking into whether the situation had enabled spying by the Chinese government.
In a statement, Huawei said it was “surprised” by the Volkskrant report and that it would not respond to its core allegations because they came from anonymous sources.
Earlier, a company representative was quoted in De Volkskrant as saying Huawei complied with all laws in every country where it operates, and “keeps the door closed to governments or others who want to use our network for activities that would threaten cyber security.”
A spokesman for the AIVD said the agency would not comment on the Volkskrant report.
In April, the agency said it was “undesirable for the Netherlands … to depend on the hardware or software of companies from countries running active cyber programs against Dutch interests,” naming China and Russia.
Of the three large Dutch telecommunications companies, KPN and VodafoneZiggo declined to comment on the report, while T-Mobile/Tele2 said it was not aware of any AIVD investigation.
The report comes a day after U.S. President Donald Trump banned Huawei from buying vital U.S. technology without special approval and effectively barring its equipment from U.S. telecoms networks on national security grounds.
KPN said last month it would exclude Huawei equipment from the “core” of its mobile network in the future, but would continue to use Huawei radio towers.
A Dutch government panel is currently reviewing security guidelines to prevent spying ahead of the construction of the country’s 5G mobile networks. Foreign Minister Stef Blok said at a press conference on Wednesday the panel would deliver a decision “soon” on whether Huawei would be allowed as a vendor.
The Volkskrant story did not contain any details of whether the alleged “backdoor” was hardware or software, how it works, or whether it has actually been used.
Reporting by Toby Sterling; Editing by Mark Potter