back to article Hua-no-wei! NSA, FBI, CIA bosses put Chinese mobe makers on blast

Don't trust the Chinese – that seemed to be the theme at Tuesday's open US Senate Intelligence Committee hearings on Capitol Hill. The directors of the NSA, CIA, FBI, National Intelligence, Defense Intelligence Agency and National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency were asked if they would personally use a smartphone from Huawei …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Deeply Concerned

    "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,"

    Ironic.. That's what the rest of the world should say about any product designed or built in America. America First - after all.

    1. JassMan Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Deeply Concerned

      Yep! You could read "governments that don't share our values to gain positions of power..." as meaning they don't trust anyone who isn't a megalomaniac.

      1. big_D Silver badge

        Re: Deeply Concerned

        @JassMan, so only buying kit from North Korea, Russia and the parts of the Middle East would be allowed? :-D

    2. Kabukiwookie

      Re: Deeply Concerned

      You obviously don't get that they are The Good Guys(tm).

  2. DCFusor

    Could it be that:

    No government ever willingly gives up power. so that's the one shared value.

    "Our values" mean we believe we should be the only government on earth, effectively - as shown over and over again, even recently. We expect to enforce our laws in other countries, even - DVD Jo, J Assange, and KimDotcom, come to mind as the better known, but there are plenty more. We expect to be able to toss out governments we don't like in the middle east (almost all of them)..and on and on.

    Looking into the past, there's more - plenty of it.

    Maybe that's why we don't teach history very well in our public schools. It's too embarrassing.

    (Yank here - in case it isn't obvious from context)

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    China trash.

    For all you assholes that down vote me for saying, "Fuck China, Fuck Huawei", fucking buy that shit and be owned, LOSERS!

    1. Elmer Phud

      Re: China trash.

      Shirley it should be 'down-vote' or at least 'downvote'?

      Well, at least 'losers' was spelt correctly for once.

    2. DeKrow

      Re: China trash.

      Feeding the troll here, but Cisco gear was proven to have been modified by the NSA prior to shipping to non-US countries. So, yeah, buy Cisco and be owned, LOSERS.

      I think the position of the US is "We're doing all these things, so we expect them to be doing it as well. But not on our front lawn!"

      It's understandable, but unfortunate, and there's no 'good guy'. What's surprising is that it's taken so long to reach this point.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: China trash.

      "For all you assholes that down vote me for saying, "Fuck China, Fuck Huawei", fucking buy that shit and be owned, LOSERS!"

      Signed

      Cisco Department Of Public Relations.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: China trash.

      Only losers swear.

    5. jarfil

      Re: China trash.

      As an European, after being spied on by the Americans for decades, I say let's give the Chinese a chance!

      (written from my Huawei)

  4. JohnFen

    Trust

    I don't trust Huawei any more or less than any other cell phone manufacturer. US spy agencies seem to asserting that somehow, US-friendly manufacturers are more trustworthy than the others. This is plainly false -- they are all deeply suspect.

    However, as a US citizen, I also take note of the potential of harm. The Chinese government is not in a position to do me, personally, much harm whatsoever -- but the US government is, so if I have to choose which untrustworthy entity I'm to be exposed to, the likes of Huawei seems the better choice.

  5. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Holmes

    Blah Blah Blah, Muh Values, Blah!

    Of course the biggest info hooverer, a country that Is "El", isn't even being mentioned, at least officially. Of course it's being talked about but only when the door has been firmly shut.

    And they have fat fingers up many companies' and representatives infrastructure and sphincters.

    1. JCitizen Bronze badge
      Megaphone

      Re: Blah Blah Blah, Muh Values, Blah!

      Not to mention that a few years ago, Malaysian and other Pacific Rim manufactures of chips were practically bragging about the piggy back chips they were inserting into the process, for mass manufacturing! They were so proud of their work, you could even see the Logo of the crackers on the chip under a magnifying glass.. I don't think China is the only one in the game - everyone is suspect.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nonsense

    US officials seem all to be retarded.

    As a start most of their beloved phones, computers and game consoles are produced by a single Chinese entity, called Foxconn! And who knows what bounds they have with Chinese government!

    Second, most of electronic devices are done in China because a number US companies have no problem whatsoever to benefit from the cheap labor in China.

    Disregarding many other millions of things I could say, US companies made no effort to fill the gaps in many areas, we all like using 4G, but anyone knows the only manufactors of transmission equipments for this technology? Do a search but I can give you a hint, none is from US or designed in US, as they love to say these days.

    Greed led to monopoly of a couple of Asian companies that most don’t even know that exists. All disks for computers are done in the same place, same for memories, same for computers, network chips, and the list goes on... so in reality what are they complaining about?

    USA is highly dependent on China, if China would close trades with US and embargo US what you think it would happen? Their technology is already in China and China as the cheapest labor and the biggest internal market and offer more attractive conditions for emerging economies. The other way around I don’t think has the same level of impact.

    The elected retardeds can bark what they want, but Chinese companies will keep growing and eating us market and on top will continue to have US industry in their side of the pacific.

    1. HmmmYes

      Re: Nonsense

      Its not really the hardware.

      Its the software.

      Little of US gadgetry runs Chinese software.

  7. veti Silver badge

    Well, duh

    Asking "would you personally use a phone made by Huawei or ZTE?" is like asking "Would you personally drive a Lada?"

    When you're asking people of that class, of course they're not going to put their hands up to that. Why would someone with a six-figure income even contemplate a cut-price phone?

    1. Orv

      Re: Well, duh

      Sadly, my ZTE phone has held up *way* better than my Sony phone did. Build quality on the Sony phone was pretty bad, the screen started de-bonding from the casing within a year.

    2. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Well, duh

      Have you actually used a modern smartphone from one of the Chinese makers?

      My daughter is very happy with her Mate 9, I have a Mate 10 Pro, I tried the Samsung S8, OP5T, Sony and iPhone and ended up going with the Mate 10 Pro, even though the S8+ is now about the same price on Amazon. The hardware is pretty good and the quality is decent.

      20 years ago, LG and Samsung were cheap "no-name" brands that people bought, because the quality was acceptable and they were cheap. Now we are seeing the next wave.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Well, duh

        Unfortunately, the pursuit of lower quality at lower price is leading to the demise of the western world.

        The Chinese think really long term as do the Russians. All democracies seem to self destruct in the face of authoritarian regimes.

    3. Lars Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Well, duh

      What about asking "would you personally use a phone made with Chinese parts". (Foxconn has factories in China too).

      It's hard to change a trend that has gone on for years. One could of course expect The MAGA to demand Apple to produce phones in the US from domestic parts only*.

      Dr. Michio Kaku explains it well in 2011.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e7D3_eGaO5k

      *see icon

    4. JohnFen

      Re: Well, duh

      "Why would someone with a six-figure income even contemplate a cut-price phone?"

      Because the cut-rate phone might meet their needs better than the high-end one, maybe? I know that the latest crop of high-end phones are looking less attractive to me than many less expensive ones -- not because of price, but because the high-end phones keep getting rid of important features and piling on additional crap that I don't need or want.

      1. Orv

        Re: Well, duh

        For me a lot of it is that high-end phones have gotten physically very large, and I prefer a phone I can work with one hand. The Chinese makes are actually bothering to keep making small-format phones with decent specs.

    5. ARGO

      Re: Well, duh

      Not a good analogy. Current top tier Huawei's are well ahead of Apple in features, with build quality as good or better. Unfortunately (for me) the price differential is not what it once was

      I'd accept a brand-based argument though. Some folk will always pay more for an inferior product with the right badge on it.

  8. JaitcH
    WTF?

    "We're deeply concerned about the risks of allowing any . . . entity that is beholden . . .

    to foreign governments that don't share our values to gain positions of power inside our telecommunications networks."

    Given the amoral activities of many Western Governments it is likely users data is safer in Chinese hands in any event. Both the GCHQ and NSA operate under legislation that make almost any activity 'legal'.

    Asking the U.S.' NSA, CIA, FBI, National Intelligence, Defense Intelligence Agency or National Geospatial Intelligence Agency heads if they would use a smartphone from HuaWei or ZTE is sort of dumb since all the back-doors and hacks developed for 'American' products would have to be repeated for Chinese products.

    The Russians might well have a solution - resorting to using typewriters and photocopiers in their intelligence agencies.

    1. jarfil

      Re: "We're deeply concerned about the risks of allowing any . . . entity that is beholden . . .

      Typewriters and photocopiers have never stopped spies. Encrypted phones on the other hand, have proven to be a tougher nut to crack. Even these supply chain attacks aren't as easy as passing by and taking a photo.

  9. Orv

    Is the problem that they're worried the Chinese government has backdoored those phones? Or are they worried that *they* won't be able to backdoor them? I imagine it's a lot harder for a US agency to secretly lean on a Chinese-based company.

    On the whole I think I'd rather have the Chinese government spying on me than my own government.

  10. big_D Silver badge

    Hmm, no cloud for you...

    If America thinks this, then maybe the rest of the world should take note.

    No more Facebook, Instagram, Microsoft, Google, Apple etc. used outside the USA... Given the general levels of xenophobia coming out of the US Government at the moment, I wouldn't be inclined to use any services or products with ties to the USA... Wasn't there a case a couple of years back of networking gear from major US companies having NSA software installed on them somewhere between the factory and the customer?

    And as most of the US kit is now made in China anyway, whether you use Chinese kit or "US" kit built in China, I don't see a big difference.

    Oh, wait, they would claim that is anti-competitive...

    The US government needs a short sharp poke with a sharp stick.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My thinking is that the US is grumpy about the NSA malware ....

    .....being passed to Russia and China and is trying to punish them by limiting trade. Given the scale of the response one would almost think that the leak was everything the NSA had.

    Further, given how many US citizens are anti-science and technology then I can understand the political value in of this joke but still feel that it is all too late. The US corps already sold their technological advantage and this is all just an attempt to close the stable door when the horse is living in luxury in another country and loving it.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And the rest of the world...

    ...is supposed to be ok with being dependent on US sourced arms?

  13. Teiwaz

    "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," said FBI Director Chris Wray.

    Everyone has seemed to pick on this passage so far.

    I too, feel the same way, with an additional national government as well as local thrown in for good measure.

    They all don't tell the truth, and they are all up to something..

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I'm reminded of a line from Aliens where the casual observer would say to the US Senate Intelligence Committee about that paragraph, "You don't see them fucking each other over for a goddamn percentage."

  14. Big_Boomer Silver badge
    Facepalm

    DON'T PANIC!

    So now the US Govt. is going to recommend that it's staff use good ole 'merkin Apple phones (that are made in China) or perhaps they should use Samsung/HTC,.... except they are South Korean and may have been hacked by the Norks. Wait,.... they can use Nokias and Blackberrys as they are Finnish/Canadian,...... but probably made in China,.... and Finland is very close to Russia. <LOL>

    All this proves is that politicians are mostly brain-dead puppets that occasionally twitch when their owners are having a wafty crank. It's that old classic of the cheating husband accusing the wife of having an affair.

  15. HmmmYes

    I think the difference between buying US/EU/'West' kit versus buying CHiense kit are the following:

    1) Apple/MS/Dell are not a branch of the US army/CIA. Seriously. Try finding details of Huawei ownership. AS far as I can work out, Huawie seems to operate like a ponzi scheme run by the Chinese psy agency.

    2) US/Western kit probably has spyholes built in. By accident or design. You comms might be spied on. However - and this is a very big however - the CIA/MI6/<whoever> does not invole themsleves in large wholesale industrial espionage and IP theft. The Chinese do - they see copying stuff as part and parcel of growing their countries economy, by hook or by crook.

    People saying 'Oh chinese are just as bad as xxx' need a very loud wakeup call FFS. The Chinese state is terrible.

    1. JohnFen

      "Apple/MS/Dell are not a branch of the US army/CIA."

      Perhaps not, but that looks like a distinction without a difference.

      "However - and this is a very big however - the CIA/MI6/<whoever> does not invole themsleves in large wholesale industrial espionage and IP theft."

      First, it's not clear that this is true. But even if it is -- so what? That is irrelevant to whether or not an ordinary person should use the phone. And if you are someone who has access to and discusses sensitive information, and you're doing so using a consumer grade phone (regardless of make), then the real problem is your terrible security practices.

    2. ARGO

      >Try finding details of Huawei ownership

      It's owned by the employees. You can't get more un-American than that!

    3. Orv

      See, my calculation is that we already know the NSA passes tips on to US law enforcement, while it's unlikely the Chinese would be quite so helpful. So if my main concern is the police snooping around in what I'm doing, I'm better off with the Chinese phone.

      Industrial espionage and IP theft are serious concerns for some people, and I probably wouldn't trust any phone if millions of dollars in trade secrets were on the line. But in reality that's all way above my pay grade. Hell, most of what I do at work is public record anyway.

  16. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge
    Facepalm

    If America actually decide to physically ban the import of Chinese goods, most especially from Foxconn (who assembles a lot of iThings as well), things will be getting really interesting.

    Whose products will the US of A then use? They'll have to produce their own - which means no more outsourcing to "cheaper" firms beyond the US of A's borders - or they'll do all sort of shenanigans to ship their products out, get these assembled, and get it shipped back.... or "import" workers on a short-term contract basis to do the work....

    1. HmmmYes

      Its software not hardware.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Can Alexa et al feed data back to their manufacturer?

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    IBM

    Do IBM still issue Huawei phones to their staff?

  18. Andy Livingstone

    Chinese goods

    A lot of posts are written in exactly the way that was used some decades ago about "Japanese products". Will we ever learn?

    I'm waiting for my refund on returned product supplied by British firm with a non-UK adapter plug.

    Caveat Emptor --- but wait till you try before slagging off products or services.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    no need to panic chinese phone user friends

    That spike shooting out when you hold the phone close to your ear can be foiled by some sort of large earmuff.

  20. analyzer

    Interesting isn't it?

    The very idea that a manufacturer, when told that the US is too paranoid to allow it to trade with them, can just shrug and say "OK, it's not like their important or anything"

    Also interesting is that the rabid paranoia infesting the feral 'democracy' is so bad they didn't even notice this huge change in their own status.

  21. JCitizen Bronze badge
    Meh

    Then let the US govt pay big money!

    If they can't trust foreigners to build their toys, then maybe they ought to contract to Texas Instruments, and go back to paying $10,000 for work stations, and really expensive cell phones. Last I heard, TI was building a HUGE 3 story high plant in Texas - wonder what they know, that we don't?

  22. pauhit

    How low can it go.

    funny, but folks seem to have no moral problem with paying people pennies in inhuman conditions to produce our tech. Most of the outcries I have heard here have revolved around "What'll the US do!? Pay workers actual living wages to produce products themselves?". Not that I am implying US companies actually care to pay their employees living wages in the first place, as they are the ones who outsourced manufacturing to China in the first place, but I still wouldn't be so happy about being first in the race to the bottom.

    Where's the end of this system anyways? So China attains a first world economy, do you think the manufacturing will stay there? It will go to India, or Africa, and stay there until its too expensive, and in 20 years the Chinese will be where the US is now.

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: How low can it go.

      In 20 years, China will outsource lots of manufacturing to the low-wage country the USA will be by then.

  23. peterm3
    Go

    My Honor 9 is great.

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