In Kampala, Uganda, Huawei employees reportedly helped Uganda's cyber-surveillance unit break into the WhatsApp group belonging to Bobi Wine, a political opponent to president Yoweri Museveni government. The Huawei employees used spyware made by an Israeli company to break into the WhatsApp group, which led to Wine's arrest, as well as the arrest of dozens of his supporters.
In Zambia, Huawei technicians reportedly helped the government access the phones and Facebook pages belonging to bloggers who oppose Zambian president Edgar Lungu's regime. This allowed the Zambian cyber-surveillance unit to locate the bloggers' locations, which led to their arrest.
In both instances in Uganda and Zambia, the Journal's report that Huawei helped those governments to spy on their political opponents were corroborated by senior security officials.
It's also said that the Huawei employees used Huawei and other technology to aid the Ugandan and Zambian governments spy and arrest their political opponents.
There was no evidence that the Huawei employees who helped the Ugandan and Zambian government allegedly spy on their opponents acted on behalf of Huawei or the Chinese government, nor did Huawei or China know about the Huawei employees' actions, according to the Journal. There was nothing exclusive or specific about the Huawei technology that was used, either, suggesting that any similar technology from any company could have been used to the same effect.
Huawei South Africa said it rejects the Wall Street Journal's allegations against its business operations in Algeria, Uganda, and Zambia.
"Huawei's code of business conduct prohibits any employees from undertaking any activities that would compromise our customers or end users' data or privacy or that would breach any laws,"
"Huawei prides itself on its compliance with the local laws and regulations in all markets where it operates and will defend its reputation robustly in the face of such baseless allegations."
This report comes at an inopportune time for Huawei, which faces scrutiny from the US government over fears that Huawei telecoms technology could be used by the Chinese government to spy on the US.
In 2018 the White House banned federal agencies and employees from using telecoms equipment from Huawei, to which Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei responded that the company has never been used to spy on behalf of the Chinese government, nor would it comply to a request to do.
This report only tends to lend credence to President Trumps opposition of Huawei in relation to 5G technology. I have always been of the view that Trump’s opposition to Huawei launch of 5G technology is a reflection of what iPhone must have done with the 4G technology launch in cohort with the various US security agencies hence their worry that China is about to do the same.
However, this WSJ report couldn’t have come at a better time in the same week Huawei tried to turn the table on Trumps criticism and sanctions against the company by spinning it around as a publicity gift that has only boosted their product sales and brought Huawei into more prominence than it would ordinarily have enjoyed had Trump not being on their case.
What’s frightening to me in all of this is our attitude as consumers, I was one of the few that felt disappointed at the way we all carried on drinking the social/new media ‘cool aid’ after the Cambridge Analytica/Facebook data mining scandal outbreak, I had expected our attitude to these stuff to be more measured after being made aware of targeted advert – fake and real, its influence on our electoral system and the gold dust that our data has become to these guys without us having a say in it.
In London’s King’s Cross area, facial recognition cameras operated by a foreign private company has been unleashed on residents and visitors and what began as a trial is now a permanent feature with links to Police and other security agencies data bases to capture and match innocent people’s faces and store them for only God know how long.
Yet we all carry on as though everything is okay, it appears we have become too comfortable with the likes and comments we get on our Instagram pictures and Facebook post that we continue to vote with both feet while our individuality is being stripped and our identity passed on to the highest bidder.
Where will all these put us all in years to come? Only time will tell but what is certain is that our lives as we know it is over.