Belgian intelligence warns against Chinese smartphones

The Belgian intelligence service State Security (VSSE) has warned about the potential espionage threat from Chinese smartphones. However, the VSSE has not yet identified any actual cases of espionage. The warning follows questions from N-VA MP Michael Freilich. He had asked the Belgian Minister of Justice Vincent Van Quickenborne for clarification as to whether the VSSE had advised on the risk of Chinese smartphones ( pdf ).

The minister's answer was not made public via the website of the Belgian government, but sent directly to the Member of Parliament. The Belgian newspaper De Tijd now reports on the minister's answer and received a response from the VSSE. "We want to point out the potential espionage threat when using these devices," said a spokeswoman for the service.

He notes that there is no hard evidence of espionage via Chinese smartphones. "We advise to be vigilant. In addition to the mixing between those companies and the Chinese government, other countries (such as the Netherlands and the US, ed.) have already expressed their concerns about Chinese telecom companies and the risks in terms of privacy and national security."

For example, the VSSE is particularly concerned about the Chinese national intelligence law, which obliges Chinese companies to cooperate with the intelligence services. "They must reserve employment positions for intelligence personnel. The Chinese cybersecurity law also obliges Chinese companies to give the intelligence services unfettered access to their IT systems. The business community has no choice but to cooperate with the Chinese government."

Freilich accuses the Belgian government of reacting slowly to the warning from the VSSE. "It is not up to the State Security to make policy. But if an intelligence agency reports that, politicians must take action. The government is now doing less than the minimum. It has never even communicated about this. If I had not presented the matter in a parliamentary answer, the State Security analysis would not even have been made public."

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