Huawei: We're Not a Threat to Our Customers

WASHINGTON, DC -- The government is going to ruin rural telecom networks by forcing them to rip out Huawei gear. That's the warning put forth by Huawei in its most recent ex parte filing with the FCC.

"Huawei cannot and will not sabotage its customer networks," the filing states. "But recent actions by the United States Government are only one step away from doing so."

Background: The filing was in an open docket (18-89) where the FCC proposed that the carriers should be prohibited from using universal service support funds to buy gear or services from companies that pose national security threats. That proposed rulemaking was filed in April 2018; later in the year, President Trump signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act for the current fiscal year, which bans government agencies from contracting with Huawei or any company using its gear.

Huawei officials say the company has an obligation to keep the docket current; it has made 11 filings to date in the docket.

In the today's filing, Huawei notes that it can't even get an in-person meeting with the FCC commissioners to find out what it did -- or is doing -- wrong. "While Huawei has not been provided with the basis or any supporting evidence for the government's adverse actions and is therefore handicapped to respond, one thing is clear -- the USF rulemaking would significantly impair the operations of many rural carriers and put those carriers' end user customers at risk of service interruptions, even if the Commerce Department does not demand removal of Huawei equipment," the filing states.

"No evidence shows Huawei has the ability or intent to shut down its customer networks, yet this rulemaking threatens to do exactly that," the filing states.

The filing also echos China's warning to Australia about potentially violating World Trade Organization obligations for free trade. Australia banned Huawei gear, and China warned the government that the WTO members can't reject imports based on country of origin. That likely won't matter to the current administration; President Trump has threatened to have the US pull out of the WTO, even though, like most members, the US has won most of the cases it has initiated with the trading body.

In its filing today, and in conversations with Light Reading this week, Huawei officials note that they aren't opposed to having their gear and code tested by countries that want to make their supply chains more secure. They simply don't want to be singled out.

Ericsson and Nokia operate in the US because "they participate in risk mitigation agreements overseen by the government," Andy Purdy, Huawei's chief security officer based in Washington, DC, told Light Reading this week. "The 'trust but verify' [strategy] of President Reagan is no longer valid. It's gotta be trust through verification. That's how we're gonna reduce risk. We can't eliminate all risk, but that's how we mitigate risk appropriately and transparently."

"While Huawei does not agree with the view that Chinese companies pose a threat simply because they are Chinese, Huawei agrees that threats to network security do exist, and should be addressed comprehensively through a holistic approach to supply chain security, not through a vendor-by-vendor approach," the company's FCC filing states.

Related posts:

Phil Harvey, US Bureau Chief, Light Reading

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RalphCH2S 6/14/2019 | 4:16:31 PM
Re: They are missing the point of the problem The Chinese government has already proven seven's point: when Canada acted on its treaty obligation to arrest a Huawei executive on behalf of the U.S. government (on charges of fraud), China threatened Canada with "consequences". When Canada would not oblidge, China arrested two Canadian citizens as the first step. Then they "discovered" problems with Canadian canola imports, cancelling their contract. This was followed by having a Canadian citizen (already sentenced to prison term on charges of drug smuggling) retried (in a closed court, of course), and this time the sentence was death. Next, after months of holding the other two Canadians without any charges (and with scant or no consular access), the two were charged with espionage - a charge that has had a 99% probability of conviction and sentencing to death. In short, China has no respect for international norms, for human rights or for the rule of law. As seven points out, even with the best of intentions, the Huawei engineers would have no choice but to do what the Chinese government would ask of them - including inserting backdoors and delivery/theft of data. 

As to Mr. Harvey's point (other countries/companies could be bribed to do the same), at least in the case of Western countries/companies, the rule of law still prevails; companies and government organizations are susceptible to legal action - and there is a free press to reveal wrongdoing. It is interesting to note that Huawei is suing the U.S. government. Is there any record of any company suing any Chinese company in China, let alone the Chinese government?

The facts are there for all to see. Of course one has the choice of burrying one's head in the sand and placing vital communications systems accessible to a country that has shown itself incapable of respecting law and order.
brooks7 6/13/2019 | 11:34:11 PM
Re: They are missing the point of the problem @Phil,

It is not bribery.  It is extortion.  How about you go to Bejing and wear a Winnie-the-Pooh costume?  Huawei will not be bribed.  They will be directed to do as told or else.  Just like the students in Tinanmen Square.  Or the Uyghurs.  Or members of Falun Gong.  Or the Canadian citizens arrested for drugs in a tit-for-tat move for the arrest of Huawei's CFO.  So, you have to be cautious of any Chinese supplier if the products can be modified to harm others.  ZTE would be a classic example of this.  But that is just in our market.


Edit:  And for completeness










Phil Harvey 6/13/2019 | 4:42:57 PM
Re: They are missing the point of the problem Which countries or companies do you think are most susceptible to being bribed into doing what you fear Huawei is capable of already? 
brooks7 6/13/2019 | 4:25:58 PM
Re: They are missing the point of the problem @phil,

How about electronic voting machines?

Not sure where things like Alexa and iPhones that have Siri are made...but there is a huge potential problem with data collection.  Ban them if manufactured in China.

Pretty much anything in the IT infrastructure needs to be supplied outside of China (remember the servers that were hw hacked?).  I think we need to be serious about component supply outside of the PRC.  Imagine that was all cut off.

Our bigger issue is the other way around.  What would I ban from shipment to China?  Ask the satellite companies how it felt to sell lots of bandwidth to China through cut outs only for it to be uncovered.  Anything video or audio recording, I would ban (no need to help the state security services).  Facial recognition software (same).  

My view is pretty simple.  China is the primary competitor for influence.  They want information about the US, technology, and policies.  No need to help them to do so.  To me comm equipment is a dual use technology and needs to be treated as such.



Phil Harvey 6/13/2019 | 1:47:39 PM
Re: Huawei Threat to Carrier IP Can you be specific? What modifications? To what gear? Made when? In what network? Pilfered from whom? And, as ever, please do send me source material on WhatsApp if you have a verifiable story. :)
Phil Harvey 6/13/2019 | 1:44:47 PM
Re: They are missing the point of the problem What other kinds of products from China would you ban, if you had the ability to do so? 
brooks7 6/13/2019 | 9:07:28 AM
Re: They are missing the point of the problem  

Yes they can and I would not put their telecom equipment in our network either.   And the CCP has plenty of proof of guilt.  Tiananmen Square as an example.  I have given some of the more modern examples in my other posts.

That is the point.  EVEN if I thought Huawei employees were all sweetness and light, I would exclude them because of the CCP.



chechaco 6/13/2019 | 2:28:05 AM
Re: They are missing the point of the problem Can companies based in Russia, Iran be used to spy on us because these are authoritarian, putting it mildly, regimes? Why not expel them from our market too? Of course, this is not court proceedings but, even then, I'd expect us having discussion from "innocent until proven guilty" PoV. Or is such paradigm applies, in your opinion, to only "yours" and not to "theirs"?
brooks7 6/13/2019 | 2:15:07 AM
Re: They are missing the point of the problem @chechaco,

No, I am stating that China is in complete control of its citizens today.  Huawei can not resist this.  So, even if they want to resist pressure they cannot.  IF the CCP decides that its best interest to spy via Huawei equipment, Huawei will agree to do so.  They can't refuse.  The thing that can be argued is that the CCP will not do so.  Of course, multiple members of the CCP have already been charged with cyber crimes.

So if you put Huawei equipment in your network, you open a security hole to the CCP.  Huawei will have no choice in the matter or end up like the Uyghurs or Falun Gong.


chechaco 6/13/2019 | 12:56:05 AM
Re: They are missing the point of the problem Your train of thought, excuse my parallel, is similar to the logic of those who cry to sue all men for attempted rape. In their defense, they point to the fact that all men have penises and may use them at any, almost, moment.
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