Thursday, 07 March 2019 13:45

Huawei files case against US over sales restrictions Featured

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Guo Ping addressing the media in Shenzhen on Thursday. Guo Ping addressing the media in Shenzhen on Thursday. Screenshot by Sam Varghese

Chinese telecommunications equipment vendor Huawei Technologies has filed a lawsuit in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, challenging section 889 of the US National Defence Authorisation Act which it says unfairly discriminates against it and prevents it from operating in the US.

Announcing the court action at its headquarters in Shenzhen on Thursday, Huawei rotating chairman Guo Ping said the company had requested the court to declare the relevant provision of the Act unconstitutional.

He pointed out that the US had been carrying on a campaign of making allegations against Huawei and painting it as a security risk, but had provided no proof to substantiate any of these allegations.

"The US Congress has repeatedly failed to produce any evidence to support its restrictions on Huawei products. We are compelled to take this legal action as a proper and last resort," he said.

Guo referred to the breach of the company's servers in 2010 by the NSA, adding that even though the premier US spy agency had obtained the company's source code it could not find any vulnerabilities.

The NSA hacked into Huawei's servers, an operation codenamed Shotgiant, to find links between the company and the People's Liberation Army, according to documents made public by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2014.

huawei conference

From left: Li Dafeng, executive member of the Supervisory Board and director of the ICT Infrastructure Managing Board Office; John Suffolk, senior vice-president and global cyber security and privacy officer; Dr Song Liuping, senior vice-president and chief legal officer; Guo Ping, rotating chairman of Huawei; Glen D. Nager, partner at Jones Day and lead counsel of the lawsuit; and Dr Yang Chaobin, president of Huawei’s 5G Product Line.

But it also wanted to exploit Huawei's technology so that when the company sold equipment to other countries, both US allies and enemies, the NSA could, in the words of The New York Times, "roam through their computer and telephone networks to conduct surveillance and, if ordered by the president, offensive cyberoperations".

An NSA document was quoted as saying: “Many of our targets communicate over Huawei-produced products. We want to make sure that we know how to exploit these products", to "gain access to networks of interest” around the world.

Said Guo: "This ban not only is unlawful, but also restricts Huawei from engaging in fair competition, ultimately harming US consumers. We look forward to the court's verdict, and trust that it will benefit both Huawei and the American people."

According to the complaint, Section 889 of the 2019 NDAA bars all US Government agencies from buying Huawei equipment and services, but also bars them from contracting with or awarding grants or loans to third parties who buy Huawei equipment or services, without any executive or judicial process.

The company said this violated the Bill of Attainder Clause and the Due Process Clause. "It also violates the Separation-of-Powers principles enshrined in the US Constitution, because Congress was both making the law, and attempting to adjudicate and execute it."

"At Huawei we are proud that we are the most open, transparent, and scrutinised company in the world," said John Suffolk, Huawei’s global cyber security and privacy officer. "Huawei's approach to security by design, development and deployment sets a high standards bar that few can match."

The company claimed estimates from industry sources showed that allowing it to compete would reduce the cost of wireless infrastructure by between 15% and 40%. This would save North America at least US$20 billion over the next four years.

Guo added, "If this law is set aside, as it should be, Huawei can bring more advanced technologies to the US and help it build the best 5G networks. Huawei is willing to address the US Government's security concerns. Lifting the NDAA ban will give the US Government the flexibility it needs to work with Huawei and solve real security issues."

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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