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Huawei lands in hot water after tracking MWC 2023 visitors

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Last updated: March 6th, 2023 at 16:19 UTC+01:00

Huawei's exhibit at MWC 2023 may have surprised us with its grandiosity, but that doesn't seem to be the only surprise Huawei had in store for its visitors during the Mobile World Congress 2023 event in Barcelona. Reports are now making the rounds about Huawei installing tracking devices in the “Huawei Card” it gave to visitors, and the GSM Association began investigating the matter.

Huawei visitors at MWC 2023 had to carry a badge, or “Huawei pass,” when visiting the exhibition, which consisted of a badge and lanyard, as well as a small plastic container of sorts. Visitors were supposed to give the pass back upon leaving the OEM's booth, but some forgot to do so.

These visitors then realized that there was a fine print on the back of the badge, claiming that Huawei uses “RFID and Bluetooth technology to collect the swipe time of this Huawei Card at the entrance of Huawei exhibition area, real-time location information and the residence time information of this Huawei Card holder within Huawei exhibition area.” (via LightReading)

The back of the badge further states: “Such information will be collected and processed only for the purpose of analyzing the overall interests of our invitees in our products to enhance our service quality. We will protect such information according to our Privacy Policy.” A Huawei spokesperson later said that “the Huawei pass is used only in the booth and returned when visitors get out.” Because of this, “there is no need to track location.”

MWC 2023 organizers are investigating the matter

Interestingly enough, the GSM Association (GSMA), which organizes Mobile World Congress, may have not been aware of the exact capabilities and purpose of the Huawei Pass. According to the organization, “the suggestion of tracking devices is a serious allegation.” The GSM Associations said they are “investigating that but don't have details to share at this moment.”

Despite the impressive exhibition Huawei hosted at MWC 2023, tracking visitors without them knowing certainly doesn't help the company's case. Huawei's mobile hardware was already banned in several countries because of security concerns regarding backdoors.

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