Jefferson Morley | February 13, 2020
Is Huawei China’s version of Crypto AG?
The U.S. is stepping up pressure on allies to cut all ties with Huawei, the Chinese telecom that supplies equipment to digital networks around the world.
Last month, British prime minister Boris Johnson spurned his soulmate President Trump and sided with his intelligence chiefs. He announced Britain would allowing Huawei equipment in less sensitive networks, which U.S. officials think is unwise.
This week Washington pushed back.
The U.S. national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, made the statement at an Atlantic Council forum on Tuesday evening after The Wall Street Journal quoted him as saying Huawei can “access sensitive and personal information” in systems it sells and maintains globally. O’Brien did not provide any evidence to support the claim. U.S. officials have long argued that Huawei is duty-bound by Chinese law to spy on behalf of the country’s ruling Communist Party. Huawei denies that claim.
Not coincidentally, a front page story in the Washington Post this week revealed that CIA and NSA had spied on enemies for decades via an encryption machine that was sold to the international market by a Swiss company called Crypto AG. The story, based on a high-level leak of a was not exactly new. The Baltimore Sun had reported the same thing back in 1995.
The new leak of an old story had contemporary implications. The question raised by the Post’s scoop was clear to most everyone following the Huawei debate. Is Huawei China’s version of Crypto AG?