Report: Dutch spy agency investigating alleged Huawei ‘backdoor’

A woman stands at the booth of Huawei featuring 5G technology at the PT Expo in Beijing, China September 28, 2018. — Reuters pic
A woman stands at the booth of Huawei featuring 5G technology at the PT Expo in Beijing, China September 28, 2018. — Reuters pic

AMSTERDAM, May 16 — Chinese telecoms equipment maker Huawei has a hidden “backdoor” on the network of a major Dutch telecoms firm, making it possible to access customer data, newspaper De Volkskrant said today, citing unidentified intelligence sources.

The newspaper said Dutch intelligence agency AIVD was looking into whether the situation had enabled spying by the Chinese government.

A Huawei spokesperson told the newspaper it denied the allegations.

“We comply with laws and rules in every country where we operate,” the spokesperson was quoted as saying. Huawei “keeps the door closed to governments or others who want to use our network for activities that would threaten cybersecurity.”

Reuters could not immediately reach Huawei for comment.

A spokesman for the AIVD said the agency would not comment on the Volkskrant report.

In April, the agency said it was “undesirable for the Netherlands ... to depend on the hardware or software of companies from countries running active cyber programs against Dutch interests,” naming China and Russia.

Of the three large Dutch telecommunications companies, KPN and VodafoneZiggo declined to comment on the report, while T-Mobile/Tele2 said it was not aware of any AIVD investigation.

The report comes a day after US President Donald Trump banned Huawei from buying vital US technology without special approval and effectively barring its equipment from US telecoms networks on national security grounds.

KPN said last month it would exclude Huawei equipment from the “core” of its mobile network in the future, but would continue to use Huawei radio towers.

A Dutch government panel is currently reviewing security guidelines to prevent spying ahead of the construction of the country’s 5G mobile networks. Foreign Minister Stef Blok said at a press conference yesterday the panel would deliver a decision “soon” on whether Huawei would be allowed as a vendor.

The Volkskrant story did not contain any details of whether the alleged “backdoor” was hardware or software, how it works, or whether it has actually been used. — Reuters