The Czech unit of telecoms giant Huawei secretly collected personal data of customers, officials and business partners, Czech public radio reported Monday, fanning concerns about security risks linked to the Chinese group.
Two former Huawei managers who spoke on condition of anonymity told the radio that Huawei required them to enter the data into computer systems that could be accessed from China.
“Managers who worked for the company for many years told our reporters that they had been forced to enter people’s personal data into a system that was separate from commercial data,” the report said.
The information included the number of children, hobbies and financial situation of designated subjects.
“Access to this information in the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is only managed by Huawei headquarters in China,” one of former managers told Czech radio.
In reaction to the report, Huawei’s Czech unit said in a statement that it was in compliance with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) rules designed to protect the privacy of EU citizens.
The Czech National Cyber and Information Security Agency said in December 2018 that Huawei’s software and hardware posed a threat to state security.
“Chinese laws require private companies headquartered in China to cooperate with intelligence services,” warned the Czech agency at the time.
The United States has banned government agencies from buying equipment from Huawei over fears Beijing could spy on communications and gain access to critical infrastructure if the firm is allowed to develop foreign 5G networks offering instantaneous mobile data transfer.
Europeans are divided on the issue, with Germany having in principle accepted Huawei’s participation in the construction of its 5G network.