White House review clears Chinese IT maker of spy threat

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A White House-commissioned study of Huawei Technologies has concluded the Chinese networking equipment provider has not posed a cyber espionage threat to the United States.

The 18-month White House probe determined that there is no evidence that Huawei was involved in spying on behalf of the Chinese government, according to a Thursday Reuters report, which cited two unnamed officials familiar with the investigation.

The findings go against a U.S. House Intelligence Committee report issued last week which recommended Huawei -- and fellow Chinese manufacturer ZTE -- not be permitted to sell telecom products here.

The White House review suggested that there are still legitimate risks presented by Huawei, such as vulnerabilities in its products that could be exploited by adversaries. But the Reuters article did not say whether those bugs may be purposely placed there. According to the story, a spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry said the report proved the Congressional committee's claims were unfounded.

The spying allegations first surfaced in August 2010, when a group of eight Republican senators warned the Obama administration to be wary of Huawei winning a bid to sell equipment to American telecom giant Sprint Nextel.

They argued Huawei had supplied equipment to Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq and Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard. They also said that because the company reportedly had ties with China's People's Liberation Army (PLA), the selection would "present a national security threat for technology leakage or enhanced espionage against the United States."

An email sent to Huawei for comment by SCMagazine.com was not immediately returned.

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