Huawei says it will allow "unrestricted access" to its software source code by "security cleared" Australians in a bid to dispel national security fears, but the Chinese networking giant wants all rivals to be subjected to the same tests.
The conditional offer comes as fears persist amongst Western governments over potential for Huawei's equipment to threaten to national security and follows Huawei's exclusion earlier this year from bidding for equipment tenders to Australia's NBN.
Huawei's offer of “complete and unrestricted access” to its equipment also follows the more recent release of the Intelligence Committee of the US Senate House of Representatives report that urged US organisations not to trust equipment from Huawei or ZTE.
Huawei’s offer of unfettered access to its software however hinges on a number of factors.
Chairman of Huawei’s Australian operation, John Lord, on Wednesday proposed a “national security evaluation centre” that would be operated by “security cleared Australians” in a similar fashion to one that Huawei opened in the UK in 2010.
The UK facility is overseen by a department of the UK’s intelligence agency GCHQ and is used to vet equipment the company supplies to BT, which is leading the UK's national fibre roll out.
Lord said the Australian facility should require equipment from all vendors, including those that have not been blacklisted from the NBN, be subjected to the same tests and that the industry jointly funds the facility.
“Huawei is willing to offer complete and unrestricted access to our software source code in such an environment. And in the interests of national security, we believe all vendors should be subjected to the same high standard of transparency,” Lord told the National Press Club on Wednesday.
Lord said Huawei had not yet discussed the proposal with its rivals, however pointed to the UK facility as evidence that government-led testing there was proof its equipment was not a threat.
“If the British security agencies had any issue with our equipment or our software, it would not be allowed in to the British NBN. And the proof is in the pudding,” said Lord.
Despite its long standing relationship, the recent concerns raised in the US have triggered an intelligence committee investigation in the UK into Huawei’s commercial relationship with BT since 2005.