The European Union has always been one of the bastions of data privacy. Launching the GDPR in 2018, which allowed users to have more control over their data, they have consistently fought against private companies and even governments having access to that data. In the recent past, the EU tried as hard as possible not to cooperate with the US on their Passenger Name Record database for potential terrorist risks. With issues like the Cambridge Analytica scandal in 2014, the Eu has become even more wary of private corporations.
However, despite these misgivings about private companies having undue access to data from users, the EU still intends to partner with Huawei to implement its 5G network. The partnership comes with significant risk, not just to private user data but to sensitive government data as well. In 2010, China Telecom rerouted 15 percent of traffic from the internet for eighteen minutes to a private server. Huawei may be able to do the same, and with the increased volume of data coming from 5G networks, the amount of information that the company could cull from internet traffic will be a lot more.
Huawei May Pose Threats to Data Privacy
Some EU states want to continue to use Huawei equipment in their 5G network rollouts, even with the company’s questionable safety record. The EU doesn’t consider China a safe partner to send data to under the GDPR. Despite this, Huawei says that it can meet any regulations that the Eu passes regarding the implementation of security for user data. The biggest problem that exists with partnering with Huawei is that the company has already demonstrated its willingness to work with the Chinese government to hand over data it collects.
Legally, the Chinese government can request that Huawei hand over whatever data it has from whatever countries it operates in, and the company would have to accede to the request. It doesn’t matter of Huawei claims it can conform to the GDPR. The overarching power of the Chinese government means that nothing that passes through a Huawei server could be considered secure. It is a disconcerting fact for the EU states that want to keep Huawei as their preferred 5G provider to face.