Intelligence agencies in the United States have warned Americans not to purchase Huawei or ZTE smartphones, due to security concerns.
The CIA, NSA, FBI, and the Defense Intelligence Agency told the US Senate Intelligence Committee that the Chinese-based telecoms products pose a risk to America.
FBI Director Chris Wray said they provide “the capacity to maliciously modify or steal information, and to conduct undetected espionage”.
This is not the first time Huawei and ZTE products have come under fire.
In 2012, the Australian government banned Huawei from bidding on national broadband network contracts.
The decision was based on concerns that Huawei could engage in network hacking at the behest of the Chinese Communist Party.
In the same year, the US Congress warned that telecom equipment supplied by Huawei and ZTE could be used for spying, and called for their exclusion from government contracts.
MyBroadband asked Huawei and ZTE for comment regarding the security concerns, and both companies declined to comment on South Africa specifically.
Statements from their Chinese-based headquarters, focused on the USA, were issued instead.
Huawei said it is aware of a range of US government activities, seemingly aimed at inhibiting Huawei’s business in the US.
“Huawei is trusted by governments and customers in 170 countries worldwide and poses no greater cybersecurity risk than any ICT vendor,” it said.
ZTE said as a publicly-traded company, it is committed to adhering to applicable laws and regulations in the US.
“We are working with carriers to pass strict testing protocols and adhering to the highest business standards,” said ZTE.
“Our mobile phones and other devices incorporate US-made chipsets, US-made operating systems, and other components.”
“ZTE takes cybersecurity and privacy seriously, and remains a trusted partner to our US suppliers.