Advertisement

Is The Hooha Over Huawei Something To Worry About?

Chinese telco Huawei is the third-largest smartphone provider in Australia and the company's CFO was arrested in Canada this week. What does this all mean for Aussies?

While it's got just 4.9 percent share in the smartphone market, federal authorities are ensuring the telco's growth in Australia is stunted -- amid security concerns over their devices and network.

Relations between Beijing and Canberra became more tense when Australia banned Huawei from its 5G network in August.

As Huawei continues to make headlines around the globe -- 10 daily gets you up to speed, as to why.

What Is Hauwei?

Founded in 1987, Huawei is one of the world's largest telecommunications and smartphone companies. While it's based in the Chinese technology hub of Shenzhen, it has provided products and services to over 170 countries world wide.

Initially, Huawei focused on manufacturing phone switches, but it's grown to building telecom networks, providing operation consulting services and building communications devices for the consumer markets.

Huawei has grown to become a global telecommunications giant. Image: Getty Images.

READ MORE: What Is Nomophobia And How Do you Know If You Have It

When Did Huawei Start To Become Contentious?

The trouble with Huawei began in 2005 when BT (formerly British Telecom) contracted them to supply routers, transmission and access equipment to upgrade the entire British telecommunications network.

BT was not obliged to inform the British government prior to giving Huawei the upgrade contact. Yet it wasn't until five years after the Chinese tech giant was awarded the contract that the government started to have concerns about Huawei being involved.

But by 2010, it was too little too late. Huawei was already involved deeply in British telecommunications.

The problem was with so-called 'core switches'. These are the parts the devices that let data and information in and out.

While Huawei claims it's 100 percent employee-owned, it has long been alleged the company has close ties to the Chinese government.

If links between Huawei and the Chinese government do exist and with Huawei having control of the switches that let data in and out, communication information could be accessed by Chinese authorities.

Chinese authorities could access information in Huawei devices. Image: Getty Images.

In 2013, British parliamentarians said the BT-Huawei deal exposed flawed security controls. They said the tech giant should not have been allowed into British telecommunications without direct consultation with ministers.

Is There A Huawei Threat In Australia?

In August, Huawei was banned from providing 5G technology to Australia because their access could undermine the security of the project.

Earlier this year, Huawei's Australian chairman John Lord said he was "happy to have our equipment tested, we're happy to have it analysed" in a bid to prove its independence.

"Huawei are saying 'we are as safe as every telco in the world' but we are saying 'we don’t believe you aren’t monitoring parts of our network back in China,'" Nigel Phair Director of UNSW Canberra Cyber told 10 daily.

READ MORE: What A Trade War Between China and The US Means For Australia

READ MORE: If Encryption Laws Go Through, Australia May Lose Apple

Phair also said Huawei has refused to provide proof of their impartiality to Australia and other international governments.

They have also been unable to provide comment on Chinese laws that bind them to assist their government when required.

"If you look at the speech from Australia Huawei Chairman John Lord at the National Press Club, he said that Huawei is owned by employees and the reality from an ABN perspective is that is true but by all intensive purposes they are being cute with their messaging," Phair said.

"The other thing that's a concern is that in Chinese legislation companies are required to assist the Chinese state on a needs basis... and he was unable to provide a straight answer on that."

Huawei was barred from the Australian 5G network. Image: Getty Images.

READ MORE: What The South China Sea Showdown Means For Australia

Why Is The Arrest Of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou Significant?

Meng, the CFO of Huawei and the daughter of its founder, faces charges in the US. It is alleged she misled multinational banks about transactions linked to Iran, meaning banks were at risk of violating US sanctions against Iran.

Meng was arrested in Canada and faces extradition to the US. She was granted a bail of $10 million by Canadian officials on Wednesday and will appear in court in February 6, where she will learn if she will be sent to the US.

Despite her being granted bail, former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig was arrested in Beijing.

Meng attends court in China. Image: Getty Images.

READ MORE: Trump Sets Hefty $50 Billion Tariffs On Chinese Imports

US President Donald Trump weighed in on the diplomatic saga, saying he would personally intervene in the Meng's case, saying she and her company poses threat to American national security.

Featured Image: Getty Images

Contact Siobhan at skenna@networkten.com.au