Embattled Chinese tech giant, Huawei could face possible sanctions in the Netherlands for allegedly eavesdropping calls made on leading Dutch telecoms operator, KPN.
Dutch newspaper De Volkrant reported that a confidential report on the operations of Huawei in the Netherlands revealed that Huawei “was able to monitor all calls made on one of the Netherlands’ largest mobile phone networks, KPN”.
The report, made for KPN by the Capgemini consultancy firm in 2010, concluded that the Chinese tech giant, who had a tough year in 2020 due to US sanctions and it global ripple effects, could have been monitoring the calls of KPN’s 6.5 millions users without the Dutch company’s knowledge.
According to the report, private chats Huawei staff in the Netherlands and China could have monitored included calls made by the then Prime Minister, Jan Peter Balkenende, and Chinese dissidents in that country.
Meanwhile, KPN has said that it commissioned the report alright, but it has not found any evidence that Huawei took customers’ information, adding that none of its suppliers had “unauthorized, uncontrolled or unlimited access to our networks and systems”.
Huawei, which is the subject of widespread security concerns in many western countries, rejected any claim that it could have eavesdropped on KPN users.
“We have never been accused by government bodies of acting in an unauthorized way,” it said.
Implications for KPN
KPN continued to award several contracts for parts of its core 3G and 4G networks to Huawei after receiving the Capgemini report, which it never made public.
But last year, KPN became one of the first European operators to exclude Huawei from its core 5G network, opting for Sweden’s Ericsson instead, while the Dutch government announced tighter restrictions for equipment suppliers including background checks on staff with access to networks.
Meanwhile, in spite of sanctions and warning from the US, Huawei continues to enjoy some support in Europe, where the company reports that 47 of the 91 commercial 5G contracts it secured last year are.
Huawei also enjoys huge support in Africa in spite of the US sanctions that has taken a toll on its device manufacture and shipment globally.