Chinese smartphone manufacturer Huawei is reportedly planning to sue the US government for banning federal employees from using its devices, according to two people “familiar with the matter” who have spoken to The New York Times.
The lawsuit will reportedly cite last year’s defense spending authorization law, which banned US agencies from using telecom equipment made by Huawei and ZTE, the Times says. Shenzhen-based ZTE has also been restricted from using its technology in the United States, although President Trump has said he wants to help the company “get back into business, fast.”
According to one of the people who spoke to the Times, the lawsuit will argue that the authorization bill punished a person or group without a trial, which is forbidden by the US Constitution.
It is unclear whether Huawei’s lawsuit will be specific to its telecommunication technologies, or whether it will extend to Huawei’s smartphones as well, such as the Mate 20 Pro and the upcoming P30 Pro. These smartphones have been banned for use by the US military and are difficult to buy in the United States since few US carriers have been willing to carry them.
Currently, there is no evidence that Huawei’s technology is being used by the Chinese government for surveillance, either via its smartphones or through its telecommunication chipsets. US officials, however, have expressed concern that China could force Huawei or ZTE to do so down the line.
New Zealand’s security services also stopped Huawei from supplying mobile network technology on national security grounds; Japan, Australia, and Germany are also considering a ban. In contrast, however, the UK National Cyber Security Centre has reportedly said that the threat Huawei poses to the safe development of 5G technologies is “manageable”—an interesting statement given that British intelligence has access to sensitive information gathered by US forces due to its membership of the Five Eyes network.
This rumored lawsuit also comes after Huawei’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, sued the Canadian government over her arrest in December 2018 at the behest of the United States, the BBC reports. The claim is filed against the government, border agency, and police for “serious breaches” of her civil rights. Meng says she was held, searched, and questioned under false pretences before being arrested by the police.