This is only my opinion, and not the representation of Saintel Daily, LLC.
A few months ago, Donald Trump suggested that the Chinese were spying on the United States through Huawei devices. And while it seemed like he was being paranoid, the Democratic National Committee is now warning candidates, party officials and campaign workers of these devices as well. The DNC Chief Security Officer, Bob Lord, wrote to candidates in the midterm elections where he indicated, “its very important that party and campaign workers not use ZTE or Huawei devices, even if the price is low or free”. He also urged that no one purchase the devices for personal or work-related purposes.
While I’m not normally one to defend Donald Trump, as you’re well aware, maybe he wasn’t too far off. And while the idea is that maybe China is spying through these devices, is that who they should be most worried about? As we’re well aware, during the 2016 campaign season, the DNC’s email systems were targeted by hackers. Alleged Russian hackers, but hackers nonetheless. The U.S. intelligence community also has these same concerns in regards to the Chinese government. FBI Director, Chris Wray told the committee:
“We’re deeply concerned about the risks of allowing any company or entity that is beholden to foreign governments that don’t share our values to gain positions of power inside our telecommunications networks… [purchasing Huawei or ZTE products] provides the capacity to maliciously modify or steal information. And it provides the capacity to conduct undetected espionage.”
NSA Director Admiral Michael Rogers added, “this is a challenge I think that is only going to increase, not lessen over time for us. You need to look long and hard at companies like this.” Of course, both companies have consistently denied all of these allegations of spying. That said, the Chinese government has strong links to both Huawei and it is growing overseas. Earlier this year, the Pentagon banned sales of both Huawei and ZTE devices at military bases. What’s interesting is that there isn’t actually any evidence that either company is actually a security threat.
Is there any merit to these allegations though? I’m not saying that the DNC shouldn’t be cautious, but are they being overly cautious? Or is there something bigger going on here? I’m posing these questions because there isn’t any proof that either of these phone manufacturers is actually spying on the United States. That’s exactly what the intelligence agencies are saying. So if there is something going on, would they tell the public about it?
I have another theory and its one that I’ve suggested before. Because we’re not getting a reason explaining why we shouldn’t purchase these devices, I think it might be a cover-up or a way to divert attention. Am I that cynical to think that the government isn’t being straight with citizens of the United States? Absolutely! And I think you should be too. The government, of course, has the right to not release certain information to the public, but it feels like a “thou dost protest too much” type situation. Meaning, they have something more to hide than they are letting on.
If it’s determined that Huawei and ZTE are spying on U.S. citizens, I’ll certainly write another piece on that. I will leave you with one thought though. I can understand why the Chinese government would want to spy on the U.S. government, but why ordinary citizens like you and me?