Michel Juneau-Katsuya, the former head of the Asia-Pacific Bureau for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), has told CBC News that the presence of Huawei’s equipment in Saskatchewan’s wireless networks could pose a threat to national security.
Juneau-Katsuya highlighted that modern technologies offer the potential to intercept some very sensitive communications. “Today, we are confronted with the ability, with miniaturization, to place spy-technology that can be activated remotely without being aware of it”.
Huawei, which has been operating for years in Canada and in Saskatchewan, has already denied allegations that it conducts espionage on behalf of China. The telecom giant says it is investing over half a billion dollars in researching 5G cellular networks in Canada:
SaskTel spokesperson Michelle Englot responded to questions about the Crown corporation’s relationship with the Chinese tech company via email.
“SaskTel can confirm that we have an existing business relationship with Huawei. SaskTel has been using Huawei equipment for the radio access network components in its 4G/LTE wireless network,” Englot said.
“We do also use Huawei radio access network equipment in our Fusion network and Huawei also provides the customer premise equipment (box) that is located in a customer’s home.
In Canada, Huawei has deals with Bell and Telus and has partnerships with Canadian universities, including the University of Regina and the University of Saskatchewan. Telus has partnered with Huawei for 5G network trials.
Canada’s allies, such as the United States, have alleged Huawei equipment poses a national security threat, as its founder has ties to China’s Communist Party and is also a former People’s Liberation Army engineer. The U.S., along with Australia and New Zealand have banned Huawei’s networking equipment. Canada has not done so but a security review is currently underway.
Back in 2012, a former senior systems security adviser at defunct Nortel, the once mighty Canadian telecom company, warned CBC News and Canadian companies against working with Huawei, citing the huge risk. He claims Huawei hacked into Nortel over a span of 10 years and stole sensitive information to compete on the world stage. He has no proof of Huawei being the culprit, but did say the breaches came from China.
“These kind of things are not done by just average hackers. I believe these are nation-state [kinds] of activity,” said Brian Shields told CBC News.
Recently, Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Vancouver, at the request of U.S. authorities, over allegations the company tried to dodge U.S. sanctions against Iran through a shell company, to sell equipment. Wanzhou was recently released on bail for $10 million CAD, and currently awaits possible U.S. extradition proceedings.