Telco Hall of Shame: Huawei

Inductee: Huawei

Headquarters: China

CEO: Ren Zhengfei

Deputy Board Director: Ken Hu

Huawei Board of Directors.


Network Size: Not Publicly Available

Countries of Operation: More than 150 countries

Finances: 11.6 billion CNY in net profits for 2011.


Huawei joined in 2004 the UN Global Compact and has applied its fundamental principles to [their] cultural and business activities.”

The UN Global Compact’s human rights principles state:

  1. Principle 1: Businesses should support and respect the protection of internationally proclaimed human rights; and
  2. Principle 2: make sure that they are not complicit in human rights abuses.

Huawei does not have an explicit Human Rights policy, in their CSR report or website.


Surveillance in Iran

A Wall Street Journal report found that Huawei had aided Iranian surveillance programs, reportedly providing equipment to mobile phone operators in Iran that allowed police to track users through their phones,

Huawei responded, stating “We have never been involved in and do not provide any services relating to monitoring or filtering technologies and equipment anywhere in the world.”

Two months after the WSJ article revealed Huawei’s successful pitch to sell surveillance equipment to MTN-Irancell, the company “voluntarily” began to restrict its Iranian operations.

Pakistani Firewall

In early 2012, Pakistan announced open bidding for a platform that would allow them to censor and block all national internet traffic. Domestic and international civil society groups asked several companies considering bidding to publicly abstain from the project. Several companies responded, but Huawei was not one.

When the project resurfaced at the end of 2012, Pakistani civil society members again asked Huawei to abstain. Huawei responded by citing its “full compliance with all applicable laws and regulations, including those of the United States and the United Nations” rather than international human rights norms.

Equipping Gaddafi in Libya

Huawei secured some of the many projects between Chinese companies and Libya during Col. Gaddafi’s murderous reign. Huawei claimed to have never left the country, even in the midst of its recent civil uprising against the Gaddafi government.

During the uprising, Huawei rejected a plea from rebel groups to supply them with cellular telecoms equipment.

Know something about Huawei that we missed? Let our telco policy expert Peter Micek know [email protected] | Public Key: 0x22510994