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House Intelligence Committee Warns Against Use of Huawei and ZTE Products, Could be Used by China to Spy on U.S.

A U.S. panel known as the House Intelligence Committee (HIC) released a report this morning, recommending that American businesses and the government avoid using products made by Huawei and ZTE, two Chinese tech companies. The report characterizes the two companies as a “national security threat” because of internal documents that were obtained from former Huawei employees that show it supplies services to the People’s Liberation Army. Representatives from the HIC said that they were disappointed by incomplete and contradictory responses during their investigation and that the committee is concerned over the amount of funding to these companies that comes in via the Chinese government. 

Huawei is denying any wrongdoing, saying that they have nothing to hide. In fact, they claim that they tried to work with the HIC for 11 months, but that the committee had a predetermined track that it wanted to follow:

“Unfortunately, the committee’s report not only ignored our proven track record of network security in the United States and globally, but also paid no attention to the large amount of facts that we have provided,” Huawei said in its statement, later adding that, “the report released by the committee today employs many rumors and speculations to prove nonexistent accusations.”

ZTE on the other hand, said that they had not seen the report (which seems odd), and would only offer the following statement:

“[ZTE is] China’s most independent, transparent, globally focused publicly traded company.”

So, if you were planning on picking up one of those ultra-low priced ZTE tablets from your local electronics store or hoping that Huawei (WAH-WAY!) would produce the next Nexus, you may want to turn your focus elsewhere.

Via:  NYTimes

  • Job

    Sounds like a great reason to buy a huawei phone…at least now I know they probably aren’t cooperating with the us government. I’d much rather have china spy on me than my own government.

  • Anonymous Coward

    Huawei and ZTE make a lot more than just phones and 4G towers…
    They want to compete directly with Juniper and Cisco and others in the core switch/router market. We’re talking about routers with 2Tb backplane capacities and beyond. Cisco UCS, Nexus and Cat6K in particular are specifically made in countries other than China, then assembled in the US specifically because Huawei has been caught in the past (recently) stealing and counterfeiting Cisco Nexus 7K chassis. I for one am not comfortable with major corporations or the US government installing infrastructure provided by either “company”.
    Then again, I drink the cool-aid… so maybe I have a bias.

  • moe6

    Hahahah, that is going to be a lot harder than most realize considering how many of their parts pepper things, not just complete products.

  • Aaron

    Since ALL of our electronic devices are manufactured in China (I don’t know this for certain, but seems true), then aren’t ALL of our devices a potential risk? I mean, what if China mandated that all manufacturers should implant spyware into the hardware of devices made there? Is this just me being paranoid? Does anybody actually check?

  • johnnychan

    Why don’t we let them build out our networks. then when they do prove to be a threat we can all say,,hmm, guess being overly cautions about our way of life and national security wasn’t so bad after all. we can all be mindless robots like Beijing.

  • Jeff

    We had a vendor fair at work and many of the promotional USB drives we got from foreign companies had spyware in them. None of the ones from US companies had any.

  • Preston

    The federal government already tracks every one of your electronic communications and stores them in the NSA’s servers. This shouldn’t even phase us.

  • Kerry Davies

    Those poor bostmoble subscribers

  • Mao

    Sounds like classic Xenophobia to me.

    • Gunther

      Not really, while I would agree that those who are xenophobic will latch onto this report for affirmation, the truth is that Chinese companies are some of the worst offenders when it comes to separating the line between government and corporation. indeed, as some noted above, the CCP does have a lot of input in their decisions, and can dictate actions based on what they perceive to be Chinese interests, even hostile ones. Looking at this as a threat is prudent, and if anything, should be used to force China to more clearly delineate the role that the CCP plays in these corporations to better provide for accountability. Think of how many Americans have felt about Dick Cheney and his ties to Halliburton. Well, in China, the ties between government and corporations are even closer, and instructions do flow from the top.

    • SolipsisticPsychologist

      Sounds like you are a blithering idiot, and if you live in America (which I doubt with a screen name named after China’s pathetic, evil dictator), that you’ve let the idiotic, constantly abused, misused, “political correctness” disease, turn you into a moron, like so many instigators in this country. Your kind of disgusting personality makes me sick, and you probably search for anything on the web that mentions “China”, and if it doesn’t praise communism, you say something stupid and pathetic like Xenophobia. The fact is, you are almost definitely a Chinese citizen, paid to be a shill stooge for your corrupt government, and post disinformation, and lies, all over true stories like this. You are just as bad as the Islamist infiltrators, who spread lies and try to use political correct guilt and fear, to try and impose Sharia law in America. Go get bent you pathetic stooge.

      • tread_lightly

        Interesting that now it is an issue. Where was the US government when US companies were buying 100’s of thousands of cheap chinese made components? Oh that is right, US companies lobbied to be able to purchase those cheap chinese components, cutting labor costs … hmmmm now who are the big players? Oracle, Cisco, IBM, HP … they dont make ANY components.

  • Gunther

    Not too surprising. I mean, the chairman of each corporation in China is generally regarded as the head of the company’s communist party branch. Some, the most affluent and close to the party, even have “red phones” in their offices, which are used to communicate with other party members. That is one of the most troubling things about how China conducts business abroad. It wants its companies to present a private face, even when the CCP is intimately involved in major decisions. I mean, this is generally troublesome for governments and other corporations who would be the targets of espionage. That said, the consumer market is less worrisome, I mean, I doubt the CCP cares about your drunk texts from last night. Then again, some of you may want to stop your gfs from sending you those nude photos, before the CCP gets their hands on them and uses them to start yet another pr0n site.

  • Geraldo

    The US govt doesn’t want any competition!

  • Think about it.

    China/Chinese companies manufacture how many computer components? Cell phone components? Networking components? Electronic components of all kinds used in all kinds of hardware and communications applications that are used by our entire military apparatus and our government from the White House to NASA to the Pentagon?

    Decades ago I argued that the Chinese could and would eventually design and produce chips and electronic components that could and would gather, cull, arrange and transmit via numerous available options our secrets and our plans and our policies and our codes and our passwords to the Chinese. Even back then it was obvious how easy it would be for the Chinese to do so given that practically everything in our technologically advanced computing, electronics, and communications systems are ‘Made in China’.

    The foresight of our government ‘intelligence community’ can’t see beyond the tip of their nose — but at least their hindsight is 20/20.


    • Greyhame

      From what I gathered about this story, they were worried specifically about Huawei because they are one of only a handful of companies in the world who have the technology to build 4G networks. Other companies also have the tech, but not one of them reside in the U.S. While I agree with your point that much of what we use for everyday computing is made in China, the worries stem from the wireless transfer of data using tech built by a company who is ultimately controlled by the Chinese gov’t. It’s the idea that our information is being passed through China’s hands that has finally tripped our govt’s alarm. You can control how you connect your laptop to the internet (firewall’s, hardwired connections, etc). The wireless game is a different story.

    • Aaron

      “The foresight of our government ‘intelligence community’ can’t see beyond the tip of their nose.”

      I submit to you that our “intelligence community” has been stifled by politicians who refuse to see beyond their own bank accounts and bids for reelection. And this is an indictment of both parties.

      • SolipsisticPsychologist

        Damn straight! There are constantly red flags being waived all the time, but the bureaucracy always stifles or completely ignores, usually in the interests in themselves, and them alone, not caring about the danger to our country.

        Since the Chinese are so notorious for clandestine things like this. I’d also be weary of certain Chinese backed applications, especially looking at what permissions are being requested. Although people are blind to it, the Chinese company that makes Go Launcher, was connected to another company that was in a serious amount of legal trouble, and up to extremely nefarious things. Not all Chinese developers are this way, but I would be very cautious with what permissions you give an app access to, especially if they seem excessive or uneeded, like seemingly no reason for a Chinese backed app to be requesting the Read Sensitive Data Log permission, which a lot of the ones i have come across, do.

  • nwd1911

    I like the description of “China’s most independent, transparent…company” That does not give me confidence they are independent or transparent, just more so than everyone else.

  • joejoe5709

    News Alert: Be afraid of everything. While we’re at it, let’s Cold War 2 with China. Could be fun.

    • Wow, just wow!

      Paranoia is a dangerous thing and you lot are basing your life on it….

  • cooksta32676

    Spy on the browsing habits of people who don’t know what phone to purchase

  • Stephen Winter

    i bet they wouldn’t keep track of bootloader unlock status though.

  • Luxferro

    Just another example of our government using the media to push an agenda. They do the same thing they say they fear. They spy on us. Maybe if the US focused on doing things ourselves, instead of on cheap labor overseas, we’d still be able to make and develop our own stuff.

  • mcdonsco

    Not surprised. IMHO everything in terms of privacy went out the window a while ago when we got to a point of EVERYTHING having a camera and microphone in it. I mean think about the devices you own and have at home or carry with you; *IF* someone wanted/needed to spy on you for whatever reason not only could they, but they would have multiple viewpoints to choose from (phone, tablet, laptop, kinect, etc)…
    I know I know, it’s not “legal” for government to spy on it’s citizens without some sort of authorization, but please, if anyone thinks the government (any government for that matter) only and strictly acts within the realm of whats legal; you’re naive, pure and simple.
    The Chinese or American governments (insert others here) didn’t have to develop a vast spy network to get eyes and ears on anything and everything; we consumers through demand and private sector development implemented it for them; all they need(ed?) to do is tap into it.

  • CaptainHowdy13

    Eh, their products looked like pieces of junk anyways

  • Greyhame

    Watched this on 60 Minutes last night. Interesting stuff. Their equipment is needed to roll out 4G networks. Thing is, only a few companies in the world have the technology required to do this, NONE of which reside in the U.S. The reason Huawei is getting knocked is because all companies in socialist China can be mandated by their government to do their government’s bidding.

    …Think I’ll be passing on Huawei and ZTE.

    • Greyhame

      Sprint tried to contract them for this very thing. The U.S. government stepped in and killed the deal. Imagine all the data that gets passed over wireless networks. Now, imagine all that data in the hands of the Chinese government. Scary.

      • JoshGroff

        Now imagine having to sort through all that data.

        • Greyhame

          Google sorts through that much data every time an internet search is done. =]

          • JoshGroff

            Yes, but if you don’t know what to search for, you won’t be able to find anything.

      • Job

        Worse imagine that data in the hands of the us government…

  • guseppe16

    I’m not buying one. But not because I have any national secrets to protect. I just don’t want China to reveal how very boring my real life is.

    • michael arazan

      Always say No to Chinese Goods and Products when ever you can.

  • Guest

    This whole time I thought it was “Hu – a – way”…

    • If you say it that way fast enough, it sounds pretty similar.

  • Aardvark99
  • Oh, so that’s how you pronounce it…I’ve been pronouncing it “How-ee” 🙂

    • New_Guy

      Yours sounds more fun =)

  • lrohenaz

    They said the same thing about Lenovo shortly after it was purchased from IBM. It was the reason they lost all of these government contracts too if I remember correctly. I don’t recall there being any actual evidence to support this though…

  • New_Guy

    That front-facing camera just got kinda creepy 🙂