Huawei Says Its Surveillance Tech Will Keep African Cities Safe But Activists Worry It’ll Be Misused

Written by Staff
Huawei
Huawei says its surveillance tech will be used to keep African cities safe. But privacy activists are worried it’ll be misused. Photo by Bernard Hermant on Unsplash

In Europe and the U.S., tense debates have broken out over the national security ramifications of allowing Huawei to be involved in the construction of new 5G networks.

The UK has approved a limited role for the Shenzhen, China-based company in its upcoming wireless infrastructure despite sustained pressure from the US to exclude them. Part of the challenge is that despite racking up $121 billion in revenue around the world last year, Huawei is seen in some US political quarters as an extension of the Chinese government which can be used to spy on rival nations.

In a recent letter sent to the UK’s House of Commons, a group of US Senators urged the UK to reverse its decision, citing the “significant security, privacy and economic threats posed by Huawei.”

From Quartz. Story by Samuel Woodhams.

Across Africa, however, Huawei faces controversy of a different nature.

The Chinese telecoms equipment giant, which reportedly built up to 70 percent of the continent’s 4G infrastructure, stands accused of selling technologies to potentially repressive governments as part of its “Safe City” initiative and in so doing helping to undermine human rights in these countries.

Safe City initiatives are the Huawei’s flagship public safety solution designed to provide local authorities with a wide range of modern products and rely on a series of Internet of Things (IoT) devices intended to improve policing efforts.

The initiatives have expanded rapidly and are now active in over 700 cities and regions, including many in China.

A recent report by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute claimed the company has also been active in Xinjiang, where a complex web of surveillance technologies has been deployed to assist the forced detention of an estimated 1.5 million Uyghurs and other Muslim minority groups.

The company has repeatedly denied involvement in the region.

In its latest ‘Safe City’ brochure, the company promotes its “automated, intelligent policing information systems” and boasts of its “omnipresent sensing” and “intelligent surveillance” capabilities.

Read more at Quartz.