November 09, 2017

They're back...(and they're still slinging lies)

In alignment with the President's visit to China this week, some sino-phobic loon(s) found themselves a new little-known media patsy to pollute the "opinion" pages of the Wall Street Journal with a rehashing of Huawei FUD.

This is the first time in a few years that we've seen someone cram all of the anti-Huawei bullsh*t into one succinct piece.  Sadly, the author won't respond to emails, phone calls, Twitter messages, etc., so, for the record (the bits in italics are rebuttal points):


Chinese Telecom Threatens U.S. Security
Wall Street Journal
By Patrick B. Pexton
11/07/2017

Giving Huawei the green light would allow Beijing to spy on Americans.

Why?  The modern information and communications technology (ICT) industry is transnational, essentially borderless.  Companies like Huawei, Cisco, Ericsson, Nokia, Microsoft, etc. are all global entities.  They all conduct research and development, code software, and design and assemble on a global basis.  They all rely on common global supply chains, sourcing inputs and labor from and in markets around the globe, including all in China.  To the extent that there are threats facing these companies and their products, they are shared.  Indeed, by virtue of the globalized nature of the industry, no company is more secure or more vulnerable than any other, regardless of their geography of headquarters.  Moreover, public revelations in recent years detailing various State-developed (e.g. NSA TAO, CIA Vault 7) exploits of multiple ICT venders – without their knowledge - have further demonstrated the universality of vulnerability.

When President Trump meets with Chinese leaders this week, he should consider an issue that has worried U.S. lawmakers for years: the possibility of the Chinese telecommunications company Huawei entering the U.S. market.

Huawei is a telecom giant, so naturally part of this worry is about competition. It’s the third-largest smartphone maker worldwide and also makes the back-end switches, routers and other equipment that make cellular networks function.

Competition?  With which American companies?  Currently the U.S. cellular telecommunications backbone relies primarily on Ericsson and Nokia (including former Alcatel Lucent) as vendors – an effective duopoly that keeps costs high and the pace of innovation slow.  And what about the hundreds of American companies that benefit from Huawei’s $10 billion in annual procurements from U.S. suppliers?  Should we not care about their commercial success?

But the real concern is national security. Since 2011, when the House Intelligence Committee first began looking at Huawei, members of Congress have been concerned that by using Huawei equipment, Americans could invite the Chinese company to siphon information about them back to the Chinese government.

See the point above about the nature of the ICT industry.

Huawei calls itself an employee-owned company, so its books are opaque to the public; and it’s run by a private board whose members were first disclosed in 2011. Its founder and CEO has longtime ties to China’s military, which is true of many Chinese companies. But U.S. lawmakers think Huawei’s ownership is particularly problematic because of the role telecommunications technology plays in national infrastructure.

Well, the fact of the matter is that Huawei’s books are audited annually by KPMG in advance of Huawei publishing a very detailed and widely publicly available Annual Report.

In 2012 the House Intelligence Committee, after a monthslong investigation, for national security reasons urged U.S. companies not to form partnerships with Huawei and another big Chinese telecom company called ZTE. It also urged the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. to block acquisitions, takeovers or mergers of U.S. companies with Huawei and ZTE.

The House Intelligence Committee report has been widely discredited, perhaps most succinctly by The Economist magazine which labeled it “written for vegetarians.”  In brief, the assertions in the Report were premised on perceptions that, despite the extensive information and documentation provided by Huawei throughout the course of the Committee’s exercise, Huawei was deemed not to have disproven unsubstantiated allegations made by others; The Report offered no credible, factual evidence of its own.

In 2012, the Australian government banned Huawei from bidding on equipment for its national broadband network out of security concerns.

Huawei is a leading provider of commercial telecommunications infrastructure equipment in Australia.

In 2013 the U.S. government barred the purchase of Huawei equipment by several U.S. government agencies, citing cybersecurity risks.

Huawei offers commercial telecommunications solutions to commercial operators, not Government entities.  That said, Huawei is not aware of any law, regulation or rule that prohibits the purchase or deployment of Huawei equipment in the U.S. 

This year, T-Mobile won an industrial-espionage lawsuit against Huawei by showing that the Chinese company had stolen technological secrets from clean rooms at T-Mobile’s testing center.

As one of the world’s leading intellectual property rights holders – ranked number one in terms of patents filed by the World Intellectual Property Organization Patent Cooperation Treaty – Huawei considers respect for and protection of intellectual property a cornerstone value for our company.  Huawei continues to believe in the merits of its defense to the allegations made by T-Mobile. Notably, according to the jury's verdict, T-Mobile was not awarded any damages relating to the trade secrets claim and there was no award of punitive damages. 

And Commerce Department officials are currently investigating whether Huawei broke American trade controls on Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria, according to the New York Times.

Huawei has very sophisticated trade compliance programs in place globally to ensure that the company is always in accord with U.S., EU, UN or other export control or sanctions policies.  Huawei is cooperating fully with the U.S. Government in terms of its inquiry.

Lawmakers are also worried because Huawei is a prime bidder for South Korea’s new 5G nationwide cellular network. This matters to the U.S. because in a confrontation with North Korea, the U.S. military may need to use this infrastructure to communicate.

Huawei equipment is deployed, proven and trusted across 170 markets, including virtually every NATO and OECD market, without any reports of security incidents.  See also the points above about the nature of the ICT industry and universal vulnerabilities.

Huawei has dismissed American concerns, arguing that it is a legitimate business with the right to compete in the U.S. under WTO rules. This is true.

Yes, it is.

But Congress and Mr. Trump should be vigilant. In the 2016 elections, Russia hacked the Democratic Party, Twitter, Facebook and Google, all without owning a major network provider in the U.S. But giving Huawei a large telecommunications presence could make America an easy target for Chinese spying.

Nonsense.  See points above about the nature of the ICT industry.

Congress and Mr. Trump should continue to monitor Huawei and consider taking legal steps to block its entry into the U.S. market.

The U.S. has long been the bastion of free trade and open markets.  It would be unfortunate for the U.S. to set market-distorting barriers precedents (which would likely be used against American companies competing abroad) that preclude competition, innovation, and more ubiquitous and more affordable broadband in the name of “security” concerns which – given the nature of the interdependent and global ICT industry (see above) – would be utterly ineffective at securing networks and data.  Indeed, they would create a false sense of security.

September 19, 2016

Here we go again (again)...

Last week, a contributor to Bloomberg, ran an opinion piece titled “U.S. Spies Think China Wants to Read Your E-Mail” (link: https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2016-09-13/u-s-spies-think-china-wants-to-read-your-e-mail).

The article reports on a supposed new “intelligence community” (so many ironies there) review of “the national security implications of Huawei's potential participation in building the U.S. 5G wireless network.”   

Please recall, I currently work for Huawei, but the views expressed on this blog are mine alone.

The article features no shortage of references to Mike Rogers’ 2012 Congressional “Intelligence” (there’s that word again) Committee “investigation" of Huawei, which produced a report which was aptly dubbed by The Economist as “written for vegetarians,” and has been otherwise pretty much soundly discredited by anyone with half a brain, or even less.

What’s really going on? 

Well, it seems someone somewhere in the “intelligence” (yet again) community woke up to the fact that the world’s leader in next generation networks is a multinational which happens to be headquartered outside the U.S. (which, of course, today, they ALL are), even, shudder, in China.

It's a titillating story, but it’s about nonsense.  

Why? 

Let's parse the article.

The grand conspiracy suggested between a government and a globe-straddling multinational to inject “microscopic beacons” into hundreds of thousands or millions of units of hardware is unsustainable.

China-based companies like Huawei that operate globally employ many thousands of non-Chinese, just as multinational American-based tech vendors employ thousands of non-Americans. 

Infecting countless units of hardware would be too visible to too many who would clearly object.

This is why we’ve read about American service providers being wittingly (if unwillingly) compromised by the NSA, but we’ve not read the same about U.S. hardware vendors.

“Tapping” a service provider is (or was) as easy as the government telling the C-Suite and the Legal Office that they're going to do it and the company is legally obliged to allow it. A tidy, manageable (until recently) little conspiracy.

Not the same with the hardware vendors.

Indeed, what we've learned instead is that American (and foreign) hardware vendors have been “unwittingly” compromised. 

A quick review of the NSA ANT catalog (linked) shows how Dell, Juniper, Cisco, Samsung, Seagate, etc. – and yes, Huawei – have had their gear exploited by the NSA.

Why the exploits?

Why not just ask these companies (at least the American ones) to implant tiny beacons?

Because, again, that is simply not a sustainable conspiracy and, once exposed, it would destroy a company’s global brand and business.

Get it?

The whole premise is nonsense, regardless of where the global vendor may be headquartered, regardless of which government may aim to compromise them. 

Compromises may indeed happen, but not with the complicity of the multinational vendor - they simply have too much to lose.

For regular readers of this blog, none of this is new.  Sadly, it just doesn’t go away.

So, yet again, U.S. service providers, technology partners, employees, consumers, pretty much everyone, suffers the high cost-low quality result, as opposed to the rest of the world…