WASHINGTON, July 21 (Reuters) – The Biden administration is investigating Chinese telecoms equipment maker Huawei over concerns that U.S. cell towers fitted with its gear could capture sensitive information from military bases and missile silos that the company could then transmit to China, two people familiar with the matter said.
Authorities are concerned Huawei (HWT.UL) could obtain sensitive data on military drills and the readiness status of bases and personnel via the equipment, one of the people said, requesting anonymity because the investigation is confidential and involves national security.
The previously unreported probe was opened by the Commerce Department shortly after Joe Biden took office early last year, the sources said, following the implementation of rules to flesh out a May 2019 executive order that gave the agency the investigative authority.
The agency subpoenaed Huawei in April 2021 to learn the company’s policy on sharing data with foreign parties that its equipment could capture from cell phones, including messages and geolocational data, according to the 10-page document seen by Reuters.
The Commerce Department said it could not “confirm or deny ongoing investigations.” It added that: “protecting U.S. persons’ safety and security against malign information collection is vital to protecting our economy and national security.”
Huawei did not respond to a request for comment. The company has strongly denied U.S. government allegations that it could spy on U.S. customers and poses a national security threat.