The accusations around Chinese tech giant Huawei have left phone owners and internet users with a real dilemma. The choice is not so much what features you want on your handset, but which spies you’re most comfortable with.
Huawei has strongly denied the accusations which appear to be based, not on publicly available evidence, but that secret kind of evidence spy chiefs tend to keep to themselves.
In case you’ve missed what’s going on, Huawei has made big inroads into the technology market that the West has happily dominated forever. It already sells more phones than Apple. Most significantly, the firm is steaming ahead in the development of the next generation 5G network.
This is the technology which will allow you to download movies in your work’s restroom in about 3 seconds, allow your bathroom scales to warn your fridge that you’re approaching thanks to the internet of things, and allow driverless cars to mount sidewalks all on their own. On a personal note, I don’t care which country makes all that happen first, as long as it happens and quickly. 3 second downloads!
You’ll have already realized there’s a lot of money to be made with 5G, although I don’t want to suggest that could be part of the reason Huawei is being targeted. I’m sure it has nothing to do with that. Ahem. Western spy agencies are warning that the company has uncomfortably close links to the Chinese state and could be putting in secret backdoors allowing Beijing to spy on anyone who happens to be using their equipment.
It’s frankly too much to bear for the likes of the US, Britain and Canada, who have zero desire to lose their infallible position in the technology and espionage markets at the same time.
All of this leaves a lot for us ordinary folk to consider, even beyond whether we should take warnings from the CIA seriously.
Keeping in mind that there is actually no definitive proof against Huawei at this point, phone owners are left to ponder whether they want a cheaper Chinese phone which could possibly be used to spy on them, or a more expensive Western made one which definitely will be.
If Edward Snowden, Cambridge Analytica and Jennifer Lawrence have taught us nothing, it’s that if you’re the proud owner of a smartphone, or have ever used a WiFi network (I’m told they’ve grown quite popular), someone can get you if they want to.
If I was a politician, soldier, nuclear physicist, or generally anyone that has the slightest bit of importance to the world, I think I’d definitely be a bit nervous about Chinese technology.
I’d be nervous about all other technology too though, don’t get me wrong, but I’m British in the time of Brexit, and if I’m going to be screwed over by intelligence operatives, I’d much rather they be proper British ones, in the spirit of the times. Or American ones, I bow down to them too.
But I am not important, and I use my phone and the internet mainly to write articles like the one you’re reading right now, which is published publicly anyway. I also go online to read op-eds from other people, watch Netflix and receive orders from my boss (wife).
So, am I worried about the Chinese coming to steal my personal secrets? No, not at all, I welcome it, misery loves company.
As far as I can see it, the only people truly at risk from Huawei technology at the moment are the people that work for the company in the West.
One Huawei employee has been charged with espionage in Poland, and the firm’s chief financial officer has been arrested in Canada, at the request of Washington. Meng Wanzhou also happens to be the daughter of the company’s founder, and is actually accused of a breach of sanctions against Iran rather than any backdoor spying activity.
In some ways it’s impressive that the US managed to throw a few things it doesn’t like all into the same geopolitical pot, and then get Canada to sort it out for them.
I’m personally more worried about the consequences of that kind of behavior, than the thought of Beijing checking out my selfies. Actually I don’t have any selfies, the reason should be self-evident!
By Simon Rite