Presentations point to greater Huawei role in China surveillance than acknowledged: report

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PowerPoint presentations from Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei Technologies indicate that the company has a larger role in China’s surveillance efforts than was previously known, according to The Washington Post.

The Post reviewed over 100 Huawei PowerPoint presentations, many of them labeled “confidential,” in which the company detailed how the government could use its technologies to identify voices, track people for political purposes and monitor the movements of inmates within prisons, among other surveillance tactics.

“Huawei has no knowledge of the projects mentioned in the Washington Post report,” the company said in a statement to the newspaper. “Like all other major service providers, Huawei provides cloud platform services that comply with common industry standards.” 

“Privacy protection is our top priority,” it added.

While the Post could not confirm who the presentations were shown to, the newspaper said that PowerPoints detailing surveillance tactics specific to government agencies — such as slides appearing to refer to China’s controversial prison reeducation and labor programs — may have been intended for government audiences.

For a long time, according to the Post, Huawei has addressed queries about its possible connections to the Chinese government by asserting that it only sells general-purpose networking gear. But some Western governments have still prohibited the use of Huawei tech amid concerns that the company was working with Beijing, per the newspaper. 

The Post’s report comes amid heightened concerns about surveillance and human rights in China.

The Biden administration recently blacklisted Chinese firm SenseTime Group Limited, which the Treasury Department says operated or owned companies that operated surveillance technology used to target members of the Uyghur Muslim minority group using facial recognition.  

While China’s Communist Party depends on tools such as facial recognition to find dissenters, it has warned tech companies like Huawei against misusing the technology in the private sector, the Post said.

Tags China Chinese Communist Party facial recognition Huawei Technologies Surveillance Tracking voice identification

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