A California-based IT consultancy has claimed that the Chinese telecom giant has stolen its trade secrets and have failed to make a contract to develop tech for Pakistani authorities. Is Huawei spying in Pakistan? Let’s see what this is all about.
Huawei spying in Pakistan?
The consultancy has sued Huawei and its subsidiary in Pakistan alleging the Chinese telecom firm stole its trade secrets. The complaint was filed on Wednesday in the US District Court in Santa Ana, California.
Business Efficiency Solutions, LLC, (BES) began working with Huawei Technologies in 2016 to overhaul the IT systems available to the Punjab Police Integrated Command, Control and Communication Center (PPIC3) of Lahore, capital of Punjab Pakistan. The company claims that, among other things, that Huawei has used their Data Exchange System “to create a backdoor and obtain data important to Pakistan’s national security and to spy on Pakistani citizens.”
The project that was started (PPIC3) as described in the legal filing, was part of an initiative formulated by the Punjab Safe Cities Authority (PSCA), a provincial government body. Its goal was to modernize the technology available to local police in order to facilitate the police as well as the people. Authorities in Pakistan invited various companies to submit proposals, including Motorola, Nokia, and Huawei.
How Huawei did all of this?
Huawei is said to have robbed BES’s low-level designs for these systems and then denied paying BES while seeking similar police modernization contracts, without involving or paying BES in Pakistan, Qatar, Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia.
After Huawei had stolen BES’s valuable trade secrets and other intellectual property in its possession, Huawei used its knowledge of BES’s technology to begin secretly procuring certain portions of BES’s software systems from other sources.
Not only that, but Huawei started using the software to steal information regarding national security and other private, personal data of Pakistani citizens. In the complaint, the term is used to describe a duplicate of the PSCA’s DES running on servers based in a Huawei facility in Suzhou, China. After getting sued, Huawei threatened to terminate the agreements between the parties and withhold all payments owed to BES. In light of Huawei’s affirmative representations that they had the approval of the Pakistani government, the duplicate DES system was installed in China.
“On information and belief, Huawei-China uses the proprietary DES system as a backdoor from China into Lahore to gain access, manipulate, and extract sensitive data important to Pakistan’s national security.”
Huawei still hasn’t replied or provided any statement regarding these allegations, when such allegations have surfaced in the past, Huawei has denied them. Last year, during the Trump administration, US authorities claimed that Huawei can covertly access its telecom equipment. But evidence to that effect, if it exists, has not been made public.
The BES lawsuit cites a past instance, described in an April 8, 2019, BBC report, in which the PSCA told Huawei to remove Wi-Fi cards from a CCTV system in Pakistan because the cards had been set up to provide remote diagnostic information, Huawei later presented it as a “misunderstanding”
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