U.S. bans Huawei, ZTE smartphones from military bases worldwide

By Susan McFarland  |  Updated May 3, 2018 at 2:28 PM
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May 2 (UPI) -- Citing security risks, the Pentagon on Wednesday banned all smartphones made by Chinese manufacturers Huawei and ZTE from all U.S. military bases worldwide.

On-base sales of all phones and mobile internet modems made by the companies are prohibited, the Defense Department said, and stores with the items were ordered to remove them.

"Huawei and ZTE devices may pose an unacceptable risk to department personnel, information and mission," Pentagon spokesman Maj. Dave Eastburn wrote in an email to UPI. "In light of this information, it was not prudent for the department's exchanges to continue selling them to [Defense] personnel."

Eastburn said for security reasons, he could not expand on technical aspects of potential threats -- but said the Pentagon is evaluating the situation and will issue further guidance, if necessary.

In February, U.S. intelligence officials advised Americans not to use smartphones made by Huawei or ZTE due to potential risk.

Although U.S. brands like Apple manufacture their smartphones in China, intelligence officials at the NSA, FBI and CIA said Chinese brands pose a greater risk.

FBI Director Christopher Wray said the Chinese phones could be used to "maliciously modify or steal information" or "conduct undetected espionage."

Both Huawei and ZTE pushed back against the accusations.

Huawei, which has been the target of numerous U.S. regulations and laws to address national security concerns, denies claims its devices are risky.

"Huawei's products are sold in 170 countries worldwide and meet the highest standards of security, privacy and engineering in every country we operate globally, including the U.S.," Huwawei said in a statement to UPI. "We remain committed to openness and transparency in everything we do and want to be clear that no government has ever asked us to compromise the security or integrity of any of our networks or devices."

U.S. officials have sanctioned ZTE for violating trade embargoes by sending U.S.-made components to Iran inside its devices, something Huawei is currently being investigated for.

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