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Huawei allegedly caught tracking MWC 2023 visitors at its exhibit

The Huawei Card appeared to have a tracking chip in it.

Published onMarch 6, 2023

HUAWEI Logo angled MWC 2022
Eric Zeman / Android Authority
  • MWC 2023 attendees who visited Huawei’s booth were required to carry a badge and lanyard given to them when entering and had to return the items when leaving.
  • Some of the visitors left with the badges and noticed there was fine print on the back of the badge.
  • The fine print revealed the items had RFID and Bluetooth technology to collect real-time location information inside the booth.

Although MWC 2023 is over, it appears there’s still news coming out of the event. Specifically, news about Huawei allegedly tracking visitors to its booth.

According to LightReading, reports are coming out about Huawei installing tracking devices on the “Huawei Card” the company handed out to attendees who visited its exhibit. The organization that runs MWC — the GSM Association (GSMA) — is reportedly investigating the situation.

For context, visitors who wanted to enter Huawei‘s booth were given a “Huawei Card,” which consisted of a badge, lanyard, and small plastic container. These visitors were required to carry the items with them while inside the exhibit and were expected to hand them back when leaving.

It appears that some of the attendees forgot to hand back their Huawei Card. These same attendees later noticed some fine print on the back of the badge that stated:

We use 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 holders within Huawei exhibition area, 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.

Rolf Werner, the senior vice president of Nokia Europe, showed the outlet the Huawei Card with the plastic container opened. It appeared to contain a small circuit board that Werner said could be used as trackers.

Huawei Card

It appears that this situation has taken the GSMA by surprise. When asked about the incident, the organization responded by saying:

Of course you will be aware that some vendors do require booth visitors to remove competitor lanyards and branding for obvious reasons but the suggestion of tracking devices is a serious allegation. We are investigating that but don’t have details to share at this moment.

Although Huawei came out in force at MWC 2023, impressing a lot of people on the show floor, this is not a good look for a company that’s been banned in several countries for security concerns.

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