Huawei exec denies US intelligence on China backdoor access

Chief security officer calls on US to 'release this information'

Huawei Technologies Chief Security Officer Andy Purdy on Thursday denied U.S. intelligence alleging China has backdoor access to the tech giant's mobile devices.

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Purdy's comments on "Mornings with Maria" come after The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that U.S. officials say Huawei's phones have had built-in backdoor access meant exclusively for law enforcement for more than a decade --- information that was previously classified until late last year.

"I think it's fantastic news that the U.S. has decided to declassify this information that they've been providing to our allies without being able to convince them," Purdy said, "So I would ask the U.S., please, release this information."

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One such ally is the U.K., which decided to allow Huawei to help build a portion of the country's 5G technology against U.S. recommendations on Jan. 28. Huawei, based in Shenzen, is subsidized by the Chinese Communist Party.

A man uses his smartphone outside a Huawei store in Beijing. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, File)

Purdy then mentioned Huawei's European partners, including Deutsche Telekom and Vodaphone --- which said it would remove Huawei equipment from its technology earlier in February --- "are not worried."

Vodafone, Europe's largest telecom company and the fourth-largest telecom company in the world after China Mobile, Verizon and AT&T, in April issued similar information to that of the Journal saying it discovered back doors in Huawei equipment that could have given the Chinse tech giant access to its fixed-line network in Italy, according to a report from Bloomberg.

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Purdy said, however, that Huawei cannot give law enforcement backdoor access without equipment provided by other telecom companies like Vodafone. In other words, foreign governments can lawfully "intercept" information from Huawei devices if they provide the equipment necessary to do so, Purdy said, adding that Huawei "can't access the information" themselves.

In this May 29, 2019, file photo, a man uses his smartphone outside of a shop selling Huawei products at a shopping mall in Beijing. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein, File)

It is possible, though, that if foreign telecom companies can provide the parts needed to gain backdoor access to provide to law enforcement, Huawei can also build and use the same kind of equipment.

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"The great thing is that the U.S. government has so-called declassified this information," Purdy said, adding that "most of the world does not agree there is such evidence" to prove Huawei provides backdoor access to the Chinese government.

"All equipment has vulnerabilities. That's different than an intentional, malicious backdoor, Maria," Purdy said. "We can prove that our equipment is not subject to any influence for the Chinese government, and we can prove that our employees are not subject to the Communist government."

Shoppers visit a Huawei store in Beijing. Chinese tech giant Huawei has filed a motion in U.S. court challenging the constitutionality of a law that limits its sales of telecom equipment. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

The security officer said Huawei has "testing mechanisms" in the U.K. and other countries that sell Huawei equipment and devices.

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"We can prove that our data is subject to total control by the carriers. Every keystroke that we access is recorded. [Foreign telecom companies] know everything that we access and what we do with it," Purdy said. "The fact is: There are mechanisms in place where independent experts can test [Huawei's] software for vulnerabilities and backdoors."

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Nokia and Erikson are allowed to do business in the U.S. "despite their deep ties to ... the Chinese government" because there is government-monitored independent testing of their products, Purdy added.

Pentagon officials are reportedly considering reversing its initial opposition to a proposal by the Trump administration to subject Huawei to certain limitations on exports of American-made equipment for its devices, POLITICO reported Wednesday.