Products from Chinese tech giants ZTE and Huawei have been deemed a security threat with US lawmakers urging government departments and private companies alike not to use them.
According to the Wall Street Journal, a year-long investigation concluded that people shouldn’t buy devices from the two companies because they could be used for spying on them. It also recommends that a block be put on any mergers and acquisitions involving the two companies.
Both companies maintain that they have been cooperative throughout the investigation and that any attempt by the US to block their products would be detrimental to the US economy.
“Purporting that Huawei is somehow uniquely vulnerable to cyber-mischief ignores technical and commercial realities, recklessly threatens American jobs and innovation, does nothing to protect national security,” said Huawei spokesperson William Plummer.
According to Mike Rogers, the chair of the committee tasked with investigating the two companies, “We simply cannot trust such vital systems to companies with known ties to the Chinese state, a country that is the largest perpetrator of cyberespionage against the US.”
If that’s starting to seem a little bit paranoid, things start to go dull tin-foil hat when the report notes that there is no direct proof that Chinese-made devices are used for spying. It does however note that some companies have reported “odd or alerting incidents” when using the products.
Less paranoid is the assertion that the Chinese government could demand sensitive information from the two companies. Huawei in particular is likely to have close ties to the Chinese government. It’s founder is a former officer in the country’s army.
Were the US to put a ban on government agencies using Huawei products, it would be following the example of Australia, which excluded Huawei from tendering for contracts with NBN Co, a government-owned corporation that is managing the construction of the National Broadband Network.
The Chinese company has also faced criticism for providing equipment to Iran.