When it comes to international relations, Huawei doesn’t have the best reputation — the US has long shunned the Chinese tech giant on the grounds of national security, and recent reports suggest that the UK is considering leaving them out of their 5G infrastructure as well.
And while Huawei hasn’t actually done anything to earn this distrust, there might actually be some validity to those concerns after all — according to a report by The Washington Post, Huawei technicians have allegedly been helping the African government to spy on political opponents.
In Uganda, Huawei technicians allegedly used spyware to infiltrate the WhatsApp chat group of rapper-turned-opposition activist Bobi Wine, and used the messages to arrest Wine and his supporters.
Meanwhile in Zambia, Huawei technicians allegedly helped the government locate the Facebook pages of bloggers behind an opposition news site, and assisted the police in arresting them as well.
To make matters worse, spokespeople from both Uganda and Zambia’s governments have both confirmed Huawei’s involvement.
“Whenever we want to track down perpetrators of fake news, we ask Zicta, which is the lead agency,” a spokesperson from Zambia’s ruling party said. “They work with Huawei to ensure that people don’t use our telecommunications space to spread fake news.”
When CNBC reached out for comment, Huawei executives have obviously denied the allegations, saying that the company has “never been engaged in hacking activities.”
Benefit of the doubt, the individuals in question could be independent renegades who happen to be working for Huawei, but either way it doesn’t do any favours for the company’s already-fragile image.
Header Image Credit: Reuters