What you need to know

  • Some Huawei employees were caught intercepting messages for African governments.
  • The messages were used to spy on political opponents in Uganda and Zambia.
  • Huawei executives were apparently unaware that this was taking place.

Huawei has faced a lot of criticism over the last year regarding its potential security threat to certain countries around the globe, and thanks to a new report from The Wall Street Journal, its image in these regards isn't getting any better.

According to the report, a group of Huawei employees has been caught intercepting encrypted messages on behalf of two African governments so that they could spy on political opponents.

This activity was discovered in two instances in both Uganda and Zambia. The Huawei employees used software called "Pegasus" to access encrypted messages — specifically those of Bobi Wine (a former rapper that's now an activist).

Huawei employees in Uganda decrypted the messages at the request of Ugandan police who tried and failed to crack the messages themselves. CNBC reached out to Huawei for comment on the story, to which the company said it's "never been engaged in 'hack' activities."

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In the report from WSJ, it's noted that Huawei executives in China didn't know this was taking place and that there wasn't any evidence of Huawei engaging in spying activity for the Chinese government.

Even so, this certainly isn't a good look for the company and doesn't help the already-tarnished public image that it has in the eyes of countries like the U.S. and UK.

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