(CNBC)– Six top U.S. intelligence chiefs told the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday they would not advise Americans to use products or services from Chinese smartphone maker Huawei.
The six — including the heads of the CIA, FBI, NSA and the director of national intelligence — first expressed their distrust of Apple-rival Huawei and fellow Chinese telecom company ZTE in reference to public servants and state agencies.
When prompted during the hearing, all six indicated they would not recommend private citizens use products from the Chinese companies.
“We’re deeply concerned about the risks of allowing any company or entity that is beholden to foreign governments that don’t share our values to gain positions of power inside our telecommunications networks,” FBI Director Chris Wray testified.
“That provides the capacity to exert pressure or control over our telecommunications infrastructure,” Wray said. “It provides the capacity to maliciously modify or steal information. And it provides the capacity to conduct undetected espionage.”
In a response, Huawei said that it “poses no greater cybersecurity risk than any ICT vendor.”
A spokesman said in a statement: “Huawei is aware of a range of U.S. government activities seemingly aimed at inhibiting Huawei’s business in the U.S. market. Huawei is trusted by governments and customers in 170 countries worldwide and poses no greater cybersecurity risk than any ICT vendor, sharing as we do common global supply chains and production capabilities.”
Huawei has been trying to enter the U.S. market, first through a partnership with AT&T that was ultimately called off. At the time, Huawei said its products would still launch on American markets.
Last month, Huawei CEO Richard Yu raged against American carriers, accusing them of depriving customers of choice. Reports said U.S. lawmakers urged AT&T to pull out of the deal.
ZTE said in a statement it “takes cybersecurity and privacy seriously” and that it remains a “trusted partner” to US suppliers and customers.
“As a publicly traded company, we are committed to adhering to all applicable laws and regulations of the United States, work with carriers to pass strict testing protocols, and adhere to the highest business standards,” a ZTE spokesperson said.
At the hearing, the intelligence chiefs commended American telecom companies for their measured resistance to the Chinese companies.
“This is a challenge I think that is only going to increase, not lessen over time for us,” said Adm. Michael Rogers, the NSA’s director. “You need to look long and hard at companies like this.”