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Monday, 26 February 2018 06:18

US campaign against Huawei driven by NSA fears Featured

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Over the last few months, there have been numerous reports in both the tech and general media about the US having suspicions around Chinese giant telco Huawei and claiming that the company may be spying for China. There is one simple reason for this: the US' premier spy agency, the NSA, fears that if Huawei equipment is used, then it will be unable to carry out its own spying.

This is exactly why the NSA broke into Huawei's systems in Shenzhen back in 2010, according to documents made public by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2014.

Public memory is woefully short and given that the US media is highly patriotic — except when confronted by something like the documents which were leaked — such facts are rarely ventilated.

The NSA hacked into Huawei's servers, an operation codenamed Shotgiant, to find links between the company and the People's Liberation Army.

But it also wanted to exploit Huawei's technology so that when the company sold equipment to other countries, both US allies and enemies, the NSA could, in the words of The New York Times, "roam through their computer and telephone networks to conduct surveillance and, if ordered by the president, offensive cyberoperations".

An NSA document was quoted as saying: “Many of our targets communicate over Huawei-produced products. We want to make sure that we know how to exploit these products", to "gain access to networks of interest” around the world.

In other words, Chinese spying bad, American spying good.

The US has attempted to get the UK onboard with its bid to ban the use of Huawei equipment recently, but London has taken what is an eminently sensible route by working with the Chinese giant so that any suspicions can be dealt with immediately.

The US appears to have pushed two of its big telcos, AT&T and Verizon, into shunning Huawei smartphones.

Australia, which has always been a lapdog for the US, has predictably jumped on the anti-Huawei bandwagon, keeping the company from being involved in the national broadband network and more recently pushing the Solomon Islands to drop Huawei from a contract for an undersea cable. The contract was given to local firm, Vocus,

Australia's Optus and Vodafone have relationships with Huawei, while the country's biggest telco, Telstra, is not in the picture.

But the fact of the matter is that Huawei holds the upper hand in these matters. It is one of just four companies — Ericsson, Nokia and ZTE are the others — that has the technical nous and budget to get involved in 5G projects and it is just about everywhere.

Unlike in the case of Kaspersky (I have dealt with that subject here and will do so once again soon), the US will have to produce some proof of Huawei's alleged nexus with the Chinese Government if it wants the company to be blacklisted more widely.

As Huawei has pointed out on numerous occasions, it has business dealings in 170 countries where the governments have no concerns even close to those hinted at by the US.

It is common knowledge that the spy agencies in the US — and other Western countries — work with the government to help local companies gain business. The US campaign against Huawei appears to fall into this category. All a part of making America great again.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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