Huawei is suing the US government over what it claims is an “unconstitutional” ban on federal use of its products, in an escalation of tensions between it and Washington.
The Shenzhen giant filed a complaint in a US District Court in Plano, Texas, focusing on Section 889 of the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) signed by Donald Trump in August.
That part of the law bans federal agencies from buying Huawei equipment and contracting with third-parties who do so.
Huawei alleges that Section 889 violates the Bill of Attainder Clause, by effectively punishing the firm without trial. It claims the law also violates the Due Process Clause and the Separation-of-Powers principles enshrined in the US Constitution — in the case of the latter, because Congress is “both making the law, and attempting to adjudicate and execute it.”
The firm claimed legal action is a last resort after failing to convince Congress to provide evidence behind its restrictions on its products. It also argued that the ban would “ultimately harm US consumers” by delaying the country’s 5G roll-out and losing $20bn in cost savings.
“Section 889 is based on numerous false, unproven, and untested propositions. Contrary to the statute’s premise, Huawei is not owned, controlled, or influenced by the Chinese government. Moreover, Huawei has an excellent security record and program. No contrary evidence has been offered,” said Huawei chief legal officer, Song Liuping.
However, proving the firm is not influenced by the Chinese government may be difficult to do in an era in which president Xi Jinping has sought ever-tighter control over everything within China’s orbit. Most recently, Beijing hit back at Canada’s decision to extradite Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou to the US almost immediately, by announcing new allegations of spying against two detained Canadians.
The firm’s assertion that it has an “excellent security record and program” is also somewhat at odds with assessments by the UK’s GCHQ.
“Last July, our annual Oversight Board downgraded the assurance we could provide to the UK government on mitigating the risks associated with Huawei because of serious problems with their security and engineering processes,” said National Cyber Security Centre boss, Ciaran Martin.