Huawei slaps US govt with lawsuit over “unconstitutional” ban

huawei suit US
Huawei rotating chair Guo Ping takes the podium at the company's headquarters in Shenzhen to announce its lawsuit against the US government, March 7, 2019. Image credit: Huawei

Huawei has officially filed a lawsuit against the US government over its actions to block the vendor from doing business in the US and elsewhere on the grounds that the ban is unconstitutional.

The lawsuit, filed in the US District Court in Plano, Texas, targets the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) – signed in August last year – that explicitly bans Huawei and ZTE from selling equipment and services to all US government agencies, who are also barred from contracting with or awarding grants or loans to third parties who purchase gear or services from Huawei or ZTE.

At a press conference in Shenzhen Thursday morning, rotating chairman Guo Ping said Huawei is seeking remedies, including a declaratory document that the restrictions targeting Huawei are unconstitutional and a permanent injunction against the restrictions.

“Section 889 of the 2019 NDAA prevents us from serving our US customers, damages our reputation and deprives us of opportunities to serve customers outside the United States,” Guo said. “Huawei is compelled to take this legal actions as a proper and the last resort.”

Guo also blasted the US government for treating Huawei unfairly whilst providing no evidence to back up its accusations that Huawei is a national security threat to the US.

“The US government has a long branded Huawei as ‘red’. It has hacked our servers, and stolen our emails and source code. Despite this, the US government has never provided any evidence supporting the accusation that Huawei poses a cyber security threat,” Guo said.

Guo also repeated statements he made during his keynote address at MWC2019 last week that Huawei does not plant backdoors in its products and doesn’t allow anyone else to do so, and that banning Huawei from the US market is ultimately harmful to US operators planning 5G rollouts and their customers.

The lawsuit claims that Section 889 of the NDAA violates three clauses of the US Constitution: the due process clause, the bill of attainder clause (which prohibits legislation that selects and punishes individuals without trial), and the vested clauses that govern separation of powers.

Under the latter, said Glen Nager, partner at law firm Jones Day and Huawei’s lead counsel for the case, “Congress only has the power to make rules, not to apply those rules to individuals.” The application of rules is the province of the executive branch and the courts, neither of which have made any final decision regarding the US government’s accusations against the company.

Both Nager and Guo said that even US President Donald Trump thought the provision amounted to legislative overreach, although the White House had objected to an earlier and far more restrictive draft of the provision, not the watered-down version that President Trump eventually signed into law.

Meanwhile, Huawei repeated that it has done nothing wrong, has no connections with the Chinese government, that its equipment is secure, and that all concerned parties are welcome to inspect and test their equipment at any time to verify that it is safe to install in anyone’s networks.

On the latter point, earlier this week, Huawei opened its Cyber Security Transparency Center in Brussels that aims to provide a technical verification and evaluation platform of its gear for customers and other stakeholders, and support independent and neutral third-party certification.

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