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US government probing handset makers ZTE, Huawei

The names ZTE and Huawei were essentially unknown a few years ago, but since about 2008 they’ve steadily grown their brands in the US. Prepaid Reviews readers in particular have become familiar with the brands, as they have provided handsets for carriers such as MetroPCS and Cricket. But because they’re both China-based companies, their rapid growth has raised eyebrows within the US government. Reps. Mike Rogers (R., Mich.) and C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D., Md.) have headed an effort. Yesterday they sent requests to the companies that outline their concerns. The main issue: espionage.

Because Chinese companies are heavily regulated, the necessarily have ties to the government. The Chinese government can exploit these ties via a low that them to “task Chinese companies with providing information or acting on behalf of the government.” US lawmakers fear that this could include levels of espionage. Since both ZTE and Huawei are telecommunications companies, the concern centers on their ability to access critical infrastructure.

Both ZTE and Huawei have said that they intend to comply with requests and answer inquiries from the government. But this appears to be just the beginning of a complicated affair. Rep. Rupperberger pretty clearly lays out the issue in a single sentence:

“We’re very concerned about the Chinese government hacking our national networks.”

Legitimate concern or not, we can expect the government to pursue this veraciously. It is, to put it lightly, no small matter.

4 Responses

  1. will Says

    The average US citizen just does not comprehend how devious and ruthless the Chinese are. This is a life and death struggle for control and they DO intend to win, and based on history, they will. I don’t think I will be buying any Chinese cell phones or using any Chinese software. I know better than to trust them.

    Posted on June 13th, 2012 at 8:27 pm
  2. ah ha Says

    You mean those el cheapo ZTE and Huawei phones? It would be a waste of time trying to spy with those things because they would not be reliable at all. Secondly, who owns these bottom-of-the-barrel phones? Somehow I am guessing that anybody who owns one of these phones would be of no interest to any foreign government. Seriously. I bet people freely give more personal information to Google than it would be possible to obtain secretly from the junk phones those 2 make.

    Posted on June 14th, 2012 at 12:34 am
  3. Joe Says

    It’s not about the phones themselves. It’s about access to the infrastructure.

    Posted on June 14th, 2012 at 9:49 am
  4. Albert Says

    I think that’s far-fetched & absurd. I don’t there’s any need for suspicion or alarm regarding this issue. Just because these companies are Chinese & do business here with American consumers does that automatically mean that because they are regulated by their own government as you said that they have sinister objectives by ostensibly selling telecommunication products to us? Chinese companies have just as much right to do legitmate business here in the U.S. as any other foreign company does as well.

    Posted on June 14th, 2012 at 11:16 am

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