Huawei and American Surveillance Hypocrisy

by Matt Klassen on September 16, 2013

Huawei is in league with the Chinese government! At the time it was a damning critique from the U.S. House Intelligence Committee, the accusation that Chinese telecommunication firm Huawei posed a national security threat to America, and that American businesses should avoid interaction with Huawei, lest they expose their industrial secrets to covert Chinese espionage tactics.

But earlier this week, in a strange hypocritical twist, the Brazilian TV network Globo revealed documents purportedly from Edward Snowden that implicate the NSA in spying on numerous targets around the world, including a Saudi bank, the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and, surprise surprise, Huawei, the very company accused of doing the same thing for China.

While this may be a Cold War-esque tit-for-tat, the Americans spying on the spies in some sort of counter-intelligence program, Huawei is doing its best to leave the NSA with egg on its collective face, going as far as to accuse the security agency of ‘illegal practices’ and joining the growing chorus of voices in the public shaming of the American intelligence community.

“Huawei is well-aware that our systems and networks are under regular attack – this is the case with most large, multinational companies, which present an attractive target for industrial espionage,” a statement from Huawei released late last week said. “While Huawei has not detected any US Government intrusions into our systems, we are very disturbed to hear that the NSA has attempted to penetrate and compromise our networks and information.”

“Needless to say, we utterly object to such illegal practices and, out of concern for any related industrial espionage by the NSA or others, we will redouble our efforts to prevent and expose such intrusive activity in the future.” [Source: The Age]

It will be interesting to see what, if anything, the NSA’s response will be to this latest revelation, as this is the first time a company who had been publicly outed as a security threat has been found to be a victim of the NSA’s shady surveillance tactics. While the news that the NSA has been spying on Huawei is confirmation, in my mind at least, that America views the Chinese telecom firm as a credible threat, we still have yet to see any evidence to that end, and perhaps revealing the nature of Huawei’s security threat could assist the NSA is its case for defending its practices (again, I doubt it will ever offer such a defence).

Purely speculation of course, but I would guess that Huawei’s involvement with the Chinese government is no deeper and just as complicit as what we heard regarding American telecom firms earlier this month, that at its worst Huawei has given the Chinese government backdoors into its network. While if true such involvement would offer some justification for the warning first issued about Huawei late last year, it seems to offer just as strong a case against American companies operating abroad, and that, as I mentioned last week, could have serious deleterious consequences forAmerica’s participation in many emerging foreign tech markets.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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