Opposition raises Huawei concerns

DANYA LEVY
Last updated 13:03 09/10/2012

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The Government says it takes allegations of cyber spying seriously after calls for it to reassess its involvement with Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei.

Opposition parties say the Government should follow the lead of the United States and Australia by limiting Huawei operating in New Zealand after fresh security concerns were raised by the US intelligence committee.

The committee said it received credible allegations Huawei may be guilty of bribery and corruption, discriminatory behaviour and copyright infringement, and has recommended US network providers look for other suppliers for their projects.

In March the Australian government refused to offer a national broadband network contract to the company after spying concerns.

Huawei has been awarded contracts worth tens of millions of dollars to supply equipment for the New Zealand Government's ultrafast and rural broadband initiatives. It also supplied technology for 2degrees' mobile network.

Labour is calling for the Government to launch a full independent inquiry into Huawei's share of its $1.35 billion broadband rollout.

Its acting information technology spokesman David Cunliffe said the US claims of spying and corruption raised potential national security concerns.

"Kiwis have lost confidence in our intelligence agencies since the Dotcom saga so an independent investigation is needed."

Labour had been raising concerns about the company since March, he said.

Greens information technology spokesman Gareth Hughes said the Government had to protect New Zealand's economy, information and intellectual property from cyber-attack.

"The New Zealand taxpayer shouldn't be giving Huawei hundreds of millions of dollars to make it easier for Beijing to potentially spy on us."

The Government's support partner United Future leader Peter Dunne said there were now "huge doubts" whether the Government's Communications and Security Bureau (GCSB) was capable of investigating concerns around Huawei.

"The Huawei issue highlights the trust we now do not have in the GCSB - they have totally shot themselves in the foot.

"New Zealand is now paying the price for the GCSB's Dotcom failures. We have a crisis in confidence in a critical agency of the state."

However, Information Technology Minister Amy Adams said Opposition parties were painting "misleading view of the situation".

"The fact is that Huawei is involved in telecommunications in more than 100 countries, and hundreds of millions of people use their technology."

The Government actively worked to minimise potential cyber threats, she said.

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"I am not prepared to have a public discussion about our security strategies. It has been a long-standing tradition that governments do not comment on intelligence matters or individual companies.

"However, it is important to make clear that the Government takes network security seriously, and is committed to working with operators and suppliers to protect the integrity and confidentiality of New Zealand's telecommunications networks."

In a statement from its global headquarters, Huawei said the US report failed to provide clear information or evidence to substantiate the Committee's concerns.

Huawei had cooperated an 11-month investigation but the committee appeared to have a predetermined outcome, the statement said.

"The Committee's report not only ignored our proven track record of network security in the United States and globally, but also paid no attention to the large amount of facts that we have provided.

"The report released by the Committee today employs many rumours and speculations to prove non-existent accusations."

- Stuff

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