Dutch telecoms firm KPN: no sign Huawei has improperly monitored users

AMSTERDAM, April 19 (Reuters) - Dutch telecoms company KPN NV said on Monday that equipment supplier Huawei had not to its knowledge improperly monitored any of its mobile users, following a newspaper story that alleged a 2010 consultants’ report had flagged such a risk.

China’s Huawei, KPN’s main supplier for equipment in its 3G and 4G mobile networks, rejected outright any suggestion that it could have improperly monitored the telecom firm’s users.

The story published in De Volkskrant over the weekend cited a report prepared by consultancy Capgemini for KPN, which it said flagged that Huawei could have been monitoring users’ calls in 2010 without KPN knowing.

KPN confirmed the existence of the report, which has not been released by KPN or De Volkskrant, but said it had been intended to analyse risks.

“No supplier of KPN has ‘unauthorized, uncontrolled or unlimited’ access to our networks and systems, or is capable of eavesdropping on KPN clients,” the telecoms firm said, referring to the De Volkskrant story.

KPN added that the Capgemini report had not established that Huawei had monitored any users or taken data.

“In all years, we have never observed that Huawei took client information,” the company said.

It added: “Partly on the basis of the risk analysis in question, KPN at the time decided not to outsource full maintenance of its core mobile network.”

Capgemini declined to comment, citing customer confidentiality.

Huawei Netherlands said its workers did not have unauthorized access to KPN’s networks and data.

“Since we began in the Netherlands 15 years ago, we have never been accused by government bodies of acting in an unauthorized way,” it added.

Huawei Netherlands’ chief operating officer, Gert-Jan van Eck, said allegations in the De Volkskrant story that even calls by the country’s then-prime minister might have been monitored were “completely not credible.”

In July 2019, a Dutch government task force recommended stronger vetting of telecoms equipment suppliers but did not but did not say Huawei should be banned, despite pressure from the U.S. government and warnings by the Dutch intelligence agency about the dangers of Chinese espionage.

In October 2020, KPN said Ericsson would build its core 5G mobile networks.

In November 2020, the government introduced new security measures for the telecoms sector, including a background check for persons with access to networks.

Reporting by Toby Sterling; Editing by Pravin Char