Top10VPN is an internet freedom organization that evaluates the security of online resources worldwide. In a recent report, its researchers looked at the censorship activities of 69 countries. Of that group, 17 use hardware produced by Chinese telecom giant Huawei to censor online training.
Cuba and Burundi are two nations that use Huawei’s “middlebox” equipment to censor journalism critical of their regimes.
Huawei’s equipment is embedded as an integral part of internet networks around the globe and is especially prevalent in countries closely connected to China. The company was founded by a member of the Chinese Communist Party. The Chinese government has used its “Belt and Road Initiative” to embed equipment manufactured by Huawei and other Chinese companies into foreign information networks.
The connection between Huawei hardware and state censorship internationally supports the belief that China makes authoritarian governments everywhere dependent on Chinese production and support.
The authors of the report interviewed the Committee to Protect Journalists, which said that the hardware produced by Huawei could be used to violate the privacy of network users intentionally. The report was unable to conclude exactly where data captured by Huawei middleboxes was ultimately directed but concluded that it would be logical to conclude that the data is being “sold or analyzed.”
Comparing the latest report with one from 2019 indicates that of the 17 countries found to be using Huawei equipment to censor and control news reports, nine have begun doing so since 2019.
As concerns have grown about whether Huawei might use American production facilities to access and control information belonging to U.S. citizens, the company has been blacklisted by both the Trump and Biden administrations.
Democratic consultant and Hillary Clinton advisor Tony Podesta have been paid at least $500,000 to repair and promote Huawei’s image among policymakers and politicians in Washington, D.C. It is, of course, unknown how far the firm’s direct and indirect reach goes into the federal government.