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Huawei is facing under fire after The Washington Post published an explosive report revealing that the tech giant may have been behind as many as five surveillance systems in China.
WaPo’s Eva Dou claims that she reviewed up to 100 presentations with 3,000 PowerPoint slides belonging to Huawei that “suggests the company has had a larger role in monitoring China’s population than it has acknowledged.”
In the past, Huawei has been linked to and criticized for its involvement in the manufacture of surveillance software, however, the company has continually denied the allegations, including the most recent ones from the WaPo.
Criticism against Huawei intensified in recent years, especially in the final months of 2020. Even sports stars, such as French footballer Antoine Griezmann, decided to cut ties with the technology giant for its alleged involvement in the persecution of the Uighurs, a Muslim ethnic minority systematically persecuted in China.
Several Western governments decided to exclude Huawei equipment from 5G telecommunications for fear that the Chinese company collects data for Beijing. Huawei and China have dismissed these accusations as unfounded.
What is Huawei’s technology used for?
Dou writes that Huawei’s “slides shed light on the company’s role in five surveillance activities in China: analyzing voice recordings, monitoring detention centers, tracking the location of people of political interest, police surveillance in the Xinjiang region, and corporate tracking of employees and customers.”
According to the report, several slides show surveillance functions “specific to police or government agencies,” which could mean that the target audience of the presentations was precisely Chinese authorities. There is no specific date on when the slides were presented, but the documents date back to 2014 and had modifications in 2019 and 2020.
According to the newspaper, regarding software to review recordings, the presentation shows a system to help government authorities “analyze voice recordings for national security purposes.” According to the report, the term “national security” can cover a wide range of activities that are considered dangerous to the Chinese regime, such as assessing “political dissent, religious gatherings, Hong Kong and Taiwan politics, ethnic relations and economic stability.”
The “Prison and Detention Center Surveillance” presentation shows the tech giant was able to help “design some technical underpinnings for China’s controversial re-education and detainee labor programs” that caused international alarm in 2017 over a crackdown on Uighurs.
The third presentation that caught the WaPo’s attention is the one titled “Huawei and PCI-Suntek Technology Video Cloud Big Data Joint Solution,” which, according to the media outlet, is a system designed to track people of political interest by “locating their electronic devices, tracking them with facial recognition surveillance cameras and other measures.”
Reference is also made to the presentation “One Person One File Solution High-Level Report” which highlights that Huawei’s technology has been used to capture criminal suspects in Urumqi, capital of the Xinjiang region. It also highlights that the Asian giant’s technology has not only been used for government purposes, but also for corporations to detect “employees who are slacking off or to identify customers in retail stores.”
Reactions against Huawei
After The Washington Post revealed the documents, several American politicians spoke out against Huawei.
Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) was blunt in stating that the technology giant basically functions as an espionage agency of the Chinese Communist Party.
Also, Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) weighed in on Twitter on the matter: “Huawei is a threat to the data security of every American. The Biden administration needs to get tough, go for the jugular, and put Huawei entirely out of business.”
Likewise, Commissioner Brendan Carr of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) agency said on Twitter that this new WaPo report reveals how Huawei’s technology can help the Chinese regime spy on and persecute political dissent. “Glad FCC has been confronting Huawei’s threats,” he commented.
Emmanuel Alejandro Rondón is a journalist at El American specializing in the areas of American politics and media analysis // Emmanuel Alejandro Rondón es periodista de El American especializado en las áreas de política americana y análisis de medios de comunicación.
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