Pentagon bans sale of Huawei and ZTE phones on US military bases

Huawei faces ongoing troubles in the US.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

The Pentagon has banned the sale of phones made by Chinese manufacturers Huawei and ZTE at retail outlets on US military bases around the world, the US Department of Defense confirmed to CNET on Wednesday. The ban is based on the potential security threat the Pentagon believes the phones may pose, said the Wall Street Journal, which originally reported the news. It’s the latest move in an ongoing crackdown on the companies by the US government, which is suspicious that they could hack into their phones or use them for spying purposes.

“Huawei and ZTE devices may pose an unacceptable risk to Department’s personnel, information and mission,” said Pentagon Spokesman Major Dave Eastburn confirming the ban to CNET. “In light of this information, it was not prudent for the Department’s exchanges to continue selling them to DoD personnel.” US military personnel are still allowed to buy and own ZTE and Huawei phones for their personal use from elsewhere, although the Pentagon is currently deciding whether it is necessary to issue a wider advisory about the purchase of phones by the two brands, said Eastburn. He added that for security reasons he couldn’t go into the technical aspects of potential threats.

Back in February, heads of the CIA, FBI and NSA all warned consumers against purchasing Huawei phones in an open Congressional testimony citing security concerns. Both Huawei and ZTE have repeatedly insisted that their consumer devices don’t pose a security threat to the US. Last month the Commerce Department has imposed a “denial of export privileges” against ZTE, which translates to a ban on US companies selling any products and services to the China-based company. Huawei is also currently under investigation by the US Department of Justice, which is trying to determine whether Huawei violated US sanctions against Iran.

Neither Huawei nor ZTE immediately responded to request for comment.

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