Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) has introduced a bill (opens in new tab) that seeks to prohibit U.S. intelligence agencies from sharing information with countries that use Huawei's 5G networking equipment, citing national security risks.
“The United States shouldn’t be sharing valuable intelligence information with countries that allow an intelligence-gathering arm of the Chinese Communist Party to operate freely within their borders," Senator Cotton said in a statement, as per CNBC. "I urge our allies around the world to carefully consider the consequences of dealing with Huawei to their national interests."
The U.S. government shares intelligence information and tools with other countries within the Five Eyes, Nine Eyes and Fourteen Eyes spy alliances (opens in new tab), as well as through other means. For example, the recently passed Cloud Act (opens in new tab) allows the U.S. government to enter deals with each individual country to bypass each other’s judicial process and a warrant requirement in order to gain direct access to the digital data of their own expatriates, even if the data is hosted abroad.
The U.S. government itself banned Huawei, ZTE (opens in new tab) and other Chinese-manufactured devices in federal agencies, due to the same espionage worries. More recently, the Pentagon also started banning some Chinese applications (opens in new tab), such as the social networking app TikTok, from being accessed on military networks.
The U.S. government began urging its allies to drop Huawei from it critical telecommunications infrastructure last year, arguing that Huawei can’t be trusted not to enable the Chinese government’s espionage operations.
Some, such as Japan and Australia, agreed to do that, but others, including the UK and Germany, are a little more reluctant, primarily because their national telecom companies have already purchased large quantities of Huawei equipment in order to deploy 5G networks.
The UK government has said that its core network components and networks used to share intelligence will not make use of Huawei equipment. However, the U.S. government continues to pressure the UK government (opens in new tab) to drop Huawei completely. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was supposed to meet with the British Foreign Minister last Thursday, but the meeting was canceled at the last minute, due to bad weather.
Huawei has always denied allegations that it helps the Chinese government spy on its foreign customers of 5G networking gear.