The U.S. government's beef with Huawei isn't really about phones

In case you missed it this week, the heads of the FBI, NSA, CIA, and others recommended that we (meaning you and me and all consumers in the U.S.) stop using products from Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE. None of the speakers had any explicit reasons why we should heed their advice, but FBI head Christopher Wray offered this non-answer when pressed for one.

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. That provides the capacity to exert pressure or control over our telecommunications infrastructure. It provides the capacity to maliciously modify or steal information. And it provides the capacity to conduct undetected espionage.

While this doesn't address why consumers should stop buying phones from any company, it does offer the real reasons the U.S. is worried about Huawei in particular.

Number 3 tries harder

Huawei is the third largest smartphone manufacturer in the world behind Samsung and Apple. It is also the ninth largest technology company (by revenue) worldwide with 180,000 employees and an average annual revenue of $78.8 billion. In other words, Huawei is as "big" a company as Microsoft. That's good news for Huawei, and usually seeing a company move up the ladder to challenge the market leaders is good for consumers, too. Officially, Huawei is a subsidiary of Huawei Investment & Holding Co., Ltd. in Shenzhen, China and that's where the real issues the U.S. has with Huawei start.

Huawei is big and China's government is big and together they scare U.S. officials.

Unofficially, everyone thinks the Chinese government is in control of Huawei. While I'm not an expert on foreign affairs or the history of the Chinese Communist Party, I am smart enough to know that the Chinese state surely does have a financial interest in one of the biggest companies inside its border. The chance that the state has a controlling interest in Huawei doesn't surprise me, either. There has been no evidence offered, and not surprisingly there isn't much on the public record to clear things up, so we have to assume that it could be true. Intelligence agencies, as well as economic agencies and trade officials, have a problem with this. A big problem for several key reasons.

Some backdoors are more important than others

I'm also not an intelligence official, but that does give me the freedom to be frank about why the U.S. might be concerned with Huawei gaining a significant foothold in the States. Economically, it means money is going back to China, and right now our government has a love-hate relationship with the world's fastest-growing economy. It (meaning the U.S. government) does not want to see a Chinese company gaining any steam using American dollars and especially one that has strong Chinese government ties. That's how global politics work — you want to be at the top and be strong enough on all fronts to stay there forever.

A backdoor in your phone is bad but a backdoor on a network switch on a company like Sprint's network is a lot worse.

From an information technology and security standpoint, the worries of Huawei being an arm of the Chinese state brings some serious concern. Not because Huawei makes phones that are worth buying and has designed a model Americans will love, but because Huawei also makes enterprise-grade network hardware that works well and is cheap. That's the kind of stuff an American business will want to buy when the bottom line matters more than anything else, and that describes almost every American business. Having a company you suspect of being part of a semi-hostile government building the equipment the country's network infrastructure is built upon is terrifying to every U.S. spy agency.

All our important and sensitive information travels across the internet infrastructure. So does sensitive and important information from the NSA, or CIA, or FBI. Those agencies have to communicate just like we do. Certain government networks are hardened and completely isolated from any other network, but this information still has to pass hands and can touch the public infrastructure from time to time. It's surely heavily encrypted on multiple layers, but it's still not something the U.S. wants China to have. If Huawei has built methods for China to intercept any of this information, a potentially critical situation is born.

The NSA and the rest of the three-letter intelligence agencies aren't worried that Huawei is spying on us via a backdoor in a phone. They are worried that Huawei is spying on them through equipment that powers the internet.

Having a company you suspect of being part of a semi-hostile government building the equipment the country's network infrastructure is built upon is terrifying to every U.S. spy agency.

And they should be. That is, after all, one of their primary objectives. The controversial actions these agencies have taken make headlines, but day-to-day, week after week, employees at the NSA or CIA are there to do their duty to keep us safe. We might not agree with their idea of "safe", or how they go about their duties, but until they are changed things are what they are. And that means there is always going to be information that's classified and secret, someone will need to send that sort of information to someone else, and it may come in contact with equipment made by Huawei. If that equipment is compromised by China, there is a valid concern there.

Back to the phones. Having everyone in the U.S. rush out and buy a Mate 10 Pro, making Huawei richer (and putting a backdoor in every American's hands according to U.S. spooks and their bosses), isn't going to make trade officials happy. Having AT&T and Sprint and Level 3 and RCN and every other company that provides the U.S. internet infrastructure use potentially compromised equipment from a country that is in all but name an enemy of the state makes intelligence officials very concerned.

So what the hell should we do?

Spies gonna spy and corporations gonna corporate. There's not much a normal person who just wants to get their money's worth when they buy a new phone can do about that. Continue to vote, both at the ballot box and with your wallet, to try and shape the country the way you think it should be. All this aside, we can and should be concerned that we're making the right decision when we buy a phone. Nobody wants a phone that spies on them, and nobody deserves to get stuck with one.

I'll come out and say it plainly: I do not think the Chinese government, or any other entity, has placed a backdoor in any Huawei phone that would enable it to steal your data.

Huawei clearly responded to this latest accusation saying their phones and networking equipment is sold worldwide and "poses no greater cybersecurity risk than any ICT vendor" and there is no reason to doubt its word when it comes to its phones. In fact, there is some evidence that supports Huawei here. There are "rules" in place when a foreign country wants to sell electronic or connected products inside the U.S. and Great Britain. The public isn't privy to the exact details, but there is a rigorous inspection when a device is able to transmit encrypted data to make sure these rules are followed. Huawei has apparently been found to be following them as you can buy their products both here in the states and in Great Britain.

Further (but even more circumstantial) evidence is that plenty of people already have a Huawei phone and some of those people are the type who can monitor what their phones are sending and where it is going. So far, we've heard nothing to make me think Huawei is sending private data back to China or is building a bot-net to terrorize Americans over the internet. If Huawei was doing anything fishy with our data, Reddit would know and Reddit would be on fire.

I'm not saying you should take my word over that of FBI Director Christopher Wray. I take my word over his, but can't ask you to do the same. But I can ask you to consider one thing: we have been offered zero proof that buying a Huawei phone is a bad idea. Not a lick. Like you, I read multiple articles and news stories about the Senate Intelligence Committee testimony and I think ZDNet's Matt Miller says it the best.

As for myself, I will continue to use the Huawei Mate 10 Pro until there is evidence that shows I should be concerned.

But you can't let me make that decision for you. Make sure you're informed and choose wisely. Meanwhile, the Mate 10 Pro is one hell of a phone.

Buy the Mate 10 Pro at Amazon (opens in new tab)

Jerry Hildenbrand
Senior Editor — Google Ecosystem

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.

  • Most eloquently stated. Amazingly well written. I intend to mostly stay out of the situation. Im very glad there are alternatives that the government seems to have no problem with. Im looking at you LG.
  • Get the LG V30. It is a very nice phone
  • "I'm also not an intelligence official..." Obviously.
  • Intelligence agencies aren't offering random joes evidence? Shocking.
  • Or maybe that's what he wants us to think 🤔
  • Very well written, balanced, and objective. An excellent read. Thank you!
  • Finally. Someone speaking some sense on this matter. Well said and well written Jerry
  • Great article. Thanks for the level headed analysis 👍
  • I couldn't agree more! The headline kind of gave me chills at first but reading it I came to the same conclusion than this article!
  • Simple for me. If the Mate10 Pro does it for you, go get it.
  • iPhones are made in China, right? How do we know Foxconn isn’t sneaking a back door in somehow?
  • Foxconn is Taiwanese (or from the Republic of China...if you want to p*ss Communist China).
    Oh and iPhones already come with backdoors, courtesy of the US government :P
  • Actually you got that completely wrong lol. Communist China is perfectly fine with "Republic of China". That implies they are an enemy government in a civil war, which is the status quo. "Taiwanese" implies independence from China, which is what pisses off Mainland China.
  • Oh, so the reason the Feds,, periodically demand that Apple/MS crack a phone/PC for them is to perpetuate the myth that they can't already do it themselves. Hey, Tim, it's about time we do the, crack this phone, we refuse, dance for the public.
  • But you failed to mention that it's factories are in mainland China.
  • Great article! I believe the US wants to secretly put backdoors in Huawei & ZTE equipment but can't because of well built products. AT&T, Verizon have been caught many times letting the NSA s splice into fiber feeds, or installing repeaters to listen in. The only difference between the US & China is legality of listening in. US has to have a warrant.
  • LOL. If you think there's no real difference in the US listening in, and China listening in, you haven't been paying attention.
  • China can't arrest me for going on social media and making fun of some crook in DC or some child ****** drug addict in Hollywood preaching morality at me. I'm not in China. They can't touch me. The US will eventually follow the UK and Canada and begin arrests for this very form of thought crime. So anyone with any sense should be more concerned about the US government spying on you than the ChiComs.
  • A very good write up, Jerry. I would just add this:
    - No Chinese corporation is allowed to exist outside the sphere of Power of the Communist Party. That's something that Mao was smart in doing. Even back then he knew he had to keep control on those who would innevitably be rich. Which is why if you go look for the heirs of the Chinese Imperial Crown...they're all in charge or owning or on the board of all of China's biggest corporations. Yeah, Mao learned the lesson from his murderous-pal Lenine and instead of killing the Imperial Family, he gave them corporations to run. The Imperials kept the money, the Commies kept the Power. - With such a deal, they eventually joined the Chinese Communist Party (because, as you might know, communists are against rich people...if the rich people aren't members of the party, of course). So you want to move up the social ladder in China? Fine. First you join the Party. - And then you have Huawei...a company founded by an ex-member of the Communist-China army. Closer to the Chinese government only if the founder had been a member of the Central Committee. When you consider all of this, it's obvious why Huawei should be persona non grata with the US government. Heck, with any Western country. But the rest of the World allowed money to talk louder. The difference here is that the US government has a lot more to hide...and let's be frank, they also don't want the competition. I can sympathise with the US government position (even if America pretending not to like China when China pretty much OWNS the American government thanks to those billions in debt they bought from deeply hypocritical). And I would frankly be completely fine with Huawei (and OnePlus, Xiaomi, Oppo etc) being banned from Western markets whilst communism rules in China. In the same vein, I'd also be completely in favour of forcing Western OEMs to have their manufacturing back in the West. But let's be realistic. It's not going to happen. If Americans want a Huawei phone, Americans will be able to get one. Even if they have to drive up to Canada. Or get one from Amazon.
    The best the US government can do is to ban Huawei from building network infrastructures in American soil and from selling phones to governmental agencies. At best they can also forbid governmental employees from owning Huawei phones. But they can't stop private citizens who don't work for the State from buying the phones.
  • +1
  • Common sense application.
  • I'm not personally comfortable dismissing the national security concern due to the difficulty of auditing network equipment and the proprietary firmware it runs on, including the cellular baseband in phones. You also have to consider that the Chinese government has made it notoriously difficult for American technology companies operating within the borders of China and competing with Chinese companies. In a quid pro quo, it's not unreasonable the US government is likewise being inhospitable to Chinese companies.
  • I've been thinking about this in reverse. What if Huawei wouldn't play ball with the US government? What if Huawei wouldn't put a backdoor on their phones for the NSA etc and got blackballed because of it? Still looking forward to the Huawei MediaPad M5
  • You know. You may be onto something there
  • I have said this a few times, Huawei probably didn't want to comply with backdoors in their network or mobile devices
  • If you think there aren't backdoors in every Chinese product to let the Chinese government access them, you're really not thinking this through. No Chinese product gets made without the knowledge and approval of the communist government.
  • Like what happened with Kaspersky I'm sure there more to it than what you read on all this media, some hidden agenda people is not aware... Maybe Huawai refused to provide the US government with a backdoor or data or something?
  • I hope you realize that Huawei can't "refuse to provide a backdoor" to the Chinese government "or something." They do what the Chinese government wants, or they don't sell their product.
  • If I can afford, I'll buy it......
  • My issue isn't what is going on now, but what could go in in the future. China could one day say, "Huawei, we need you to give us access to x and y," and they'll have to do it. I don't think the agencies want that possibility.
  • Exactly! Let's say Huawei becomes very popular with their networking equipment with corporations for being cheaper than its main competitor like Cisco (bec their software is a rip off Cisco's IOS) and the Chinese government see this and wants to take advantage forces Huawei to provide the network traffic or back doors in its equipment threw updates and etc. Huawei is a Chinese company based in China so I'm sure they give in. While US government and Canada spies mainly for terrorists wanting to harm while China is specifically spying on how it can steal companies intellectual property to further boost it's on own domestic companies thru cyber attacks. How do you think China has gotten to where's it's at in certain areas? If not copying or stealing, they re doing it from fake partnerships or trying to buy foreign companies. So I totally agree with the U.S ban on Huawei and ZTE. Heck even when BlackBerry was up for sale back in 2014 /2015 the Canadian government blocked Lenovo from buying bec of National Security.
  • There is no ban on Huawei/ZTE products in the US. Only some agency individuals advising Americans not to buy them
  • My bad on the ban as I got a little carried away lol. I agree with them advising customers not buy or to use their own discretion. Definitely agree with them on companies NOT to use their networking equipment.
  • Reminder - US Govt was caught red handed, spying on all of our Allies not just here , but abroad in their own countries. They literally spied on German state officials, their Govt buildings, etc. All other countries as well. Some sort of Apology was issued and they moved on. So, no it's not just spying to prevent terrorism, US has incentive to be ahead in all other areas. It all about power - money.
  • Yes I remember that. U.S is definitely no angel and China isn't either.
  • Of course. Both statements can be true - I can't trust US Govt for XYZ crimes committed and admitted so far and definitely can't trust Chinese Govt. :)
    BTW, US bombed and killed 7 people in Chinese Embassy in Belgrade, Serbia during the NATO bombing campaign in 1999. "It was the wrong Intel..." US apologized and moved on.
    In reality it was impossible to have it "mistaken" with some of the local official buildings, because that was a new building structure, never used for any other purpose by any other entity. It was Chinese Embassy from the day one.
    This sick relationship between the 2 powers is unpredictable.
  • Gerry about the only one right in any reasonable articles lately
  • I was hoping Jerry would have something to say about this. Great opinion piece!
  • Better the Devil you know!
  • Well written....felt sorry for most American missed such a innovative company with many of their great products. Without solid proof, I can only guess those US agencies were insecure and fear of China. But I certainly like to point out those same US government agency did make huge mistake before. The WMD, weapons of mass destruction, in Iraq that ended with many human sad.
  • Thanks for posting! Glad to see a reasonable opinion on this. Great read!
  • These are the same agencies who Also had backdoors in Cisco kit's going around the world
  • I don't trust us gov anymore than any other gov on Earth. I just know evidence of wrong doing would've been exposed by now. It hasn't, so if you can afford the phone, grab it.
  • I'm curious to know why they are not maing a big deal about one plus. One plus headquarters is in the same place as huawei. Shenzhen, Guangdong, China
  • OnePlus only sales phones here and they are a small player. Huawei sells a lot of different electronic things, so they would be more likely to not bother with OnePlus.
  • I bought a Honor 7x recently. Was really an impulse buy and was planning on just playing with it. Phone went way beyond my expectations and have been using it as a daily driver. I can really see Apple and Samsung being worried about their presence in the US market.
  • Great article, I guess I really don't know what to think. Do other countries have a problem with Huawei? Being #3 on the planet in rankings I would like to know what they have to say about this issue. I normally purchase my phones thru a carrier for warranty & protection. But I understand a lot of people purchase unlocked, would like to hear their opinions!
  • It's very simple ... Everything starts from American companies, which although they produce in China, sell overprints in America and do not stand as a Chinese producer to make products much better than theirs and to sell them at a real price in America.
  • Of course, Chinese companies can make those products cheaper by (1) stealing US intellectual property with the complicity of the Chinese government, and (2) using prisoners as slave labor, and (3) paying other employees wages that leave them in virtual poverty.
  • Lol. Chinas living standards have improved dramatically the last ten years or so. You musn't read much.
  • Yes it has thanks to all the foreign companies doing business their to make their products cheaper. And the amount of tech they steal and copy for their domestic companies to produce. You think Huawei's networking is that great from their innovation? It's all copied and stolen tech from Cisco! Chinese companies that make products with copied and stolen tech shouldn't be allowed to sell
  • Shouldnt be allowed to sell? Who's gonna stop them? China, like any country on the planet, does whatever they can to gain an advantage. Yet people get on their moral high horse whenever it comes to China because the spooks want them to.
  • I've had 3 Huawei phones. Never had an issue with any of them.
    Shoot, considering the stuff the NSA, FBI, CIA and what not does daily, and considering people globally kind of gave up privacy when these things came around in 07, I just don't concern myself.
    Wouldn't surprise me if there is a TON of money, from K-street lobbyist for Apple/Samsung being
    floated around congress to get the FCC to make a threat to at&t or any other carrier not to "sponsor" the
    Huawei phones. Most people for whatever reason, think you have to go to a carrier store to buy a phone.
    Walk into one, and what do you see mostly? Apple & Samsung. Considering how much they make on phones, they would probably risk a few million trying to get the government to keep any other manufacturer OUT of their cozy little duopoly they have with AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile etc.
  • I'm certainly not an intelligence expert, but I wonder why the concern about Huawei and ZTE, but not Lenovo/Motorola. Aren't they all Chinese companies? I have owned several Motos and currently use an Honor 8. These phone have filled a valuable niche in the mid-range market. Is the intelligence community trying to tell me that I am at risk using a Chinese product or are they more concerned about the dollars flowing to China?
  • FWIW, everything manufactured in Chinese factories has a small risk of including a back door regardless of the manufacturer. I listened to a session by a Dell security expert a while back and he mentioned at the time that they inspected some % of every laptop shipped from China because they found at the time some hacking software built into the hardware itself in a small % of their laptops. Of course the risk is higher with Huawei, and things have changed since then.
  • The argument that this is about economics is just silly. There are literally millions of Chinese made products entering the U.S. every single day, and you don't see the intel community telling us not to buy them. This is, really and truly, about information security and intelligence gathering. I can't name names, for NDA and security clearance reasons, but I have witnessed first hand a Chinese made network appliance being tested by a U.S. government agency. As soon as it was powered up it began looking for an IP address outside the sandboxed network. When allows to access the internet, it connected to a server outside the U.S. Guess in what country? And the fact that Huawei and other Chinese phones don't phone home today doesn't mean they won't in the future. We all get regular software updates to our phones, and apply them pretty much without thinking. The Chinese don't even have to compromise all the phones they send here. Just ones they can link to government employees, or to people working in certain corporations. Both are easy to identify based on the WiFi networks phones connect to. The Chinese government doesn't spy the same way western nations do. We tend to see spying as a government activity, accomplished by people who are paid primarily to do that. CIA, NSA, and other similar agencies. China sees every Chinese citizen as a potential spy, of both government and competitive commercial information. The Chinese academic working with American or European physicists? She may be nothing more than she seems. But it is not at all unlikely that the Chinese government is aware of every single detail she learns. And puts that data together with details gleaned from thousands of other contacts. Individually, they may not seem all that important. But put together, they may tell the Chinese government more than we would like them to know.
  • Did you check under your bed for Commies?
  • No. But I do check the internet for them. 😃
  • Not that my view matters, but it would seem to me that the reason our intelligence agencies aren't offering us 'satisfactory proof' is the reason why they are called intelligence agencies and conduct covert operations to gather such intelligence. If they publicly declared what they know and how they got it to the point of "proving" it to us they'd be giving away intelligence to the 'other team'. Part of the covert operations playbook is that the opposition doesn't know what you know or even *that* you know.
  • I dont think this has anything to do with Smartphones. Huawei is big in routing and switching and its well known that their OS is a straight rip off of Cisco's. I think this is the government's issue
  • Very coherently stated. You may not be a security analyst, but you think a lot like one. The key to understanding the difference between where you come out and where the heads of the agencies are speaking is to recognize that, as a private citizen, you generally ask the question, "Is there sufficient reason to believe that buying one of these devices could compromise my data?" When you work for a 3-letter agency, you tend to ask the question, "Is there any possibility that one of these devices could compromise someone's data?" It's basically a "better safe than sorry" position.
  • How hypocritical of US government to have problems with this, but they would not have a single thing against Apple taking the lead on Chinese market when it comes to phones...
  • GCHQ signed off on purchase and use of Huawei equipment in UK... I need no further proof that there *are* backdoors in their equipment or, at the very least, exploits GCHQ can make use of.
  • If that was true, there would be 2 possible outcomes:
    1. Huawei indeed has spy stuff on their phones, and agencies that work on that kind of stuff will expose this any minute now
    2. Huawei has spy stuff in their phones, but it is so advanced that western spypreventing technology is eons behind it.
  • Read on my Huawei Mediapad M3 🙂
  • They are quite nice. If any of this is true the Chinese government makes some nice products.
  • Thanks for the story, Jerry. Like Matt, I'll continue to use my Huawei and Honor devices and buy others until someone can clearly prove and explain to me why these devices are so bad. And then I'll make my own mind up.
  • Having been a soldier for 17 years with just over 3 years left and working for a utility billing company that has an excellent IT team that makes their own inhouse software programs and even having taken dozens of IT courses before settling on Psychology as my degree, I can understand the concerns. At the same time, a little logic and psychology goes a long way. I don't feel like Huawei is going to do any spying except possibly for certain government individuals, if that. Our own U.S. government does much worse. The number one rule to live by is, "Don't steal, the government hates competition." There's a lot more truth to it than most people know. If you want a Huawei phone buy it. Chances of you being spied on by them or the Chinese government are very minimal. As for me, I'm going to get a one plus 5T within a few weeks on Amazon. I'm also going to get the Samsung Chromebook Pro. I had the plus and it was pretty good. The pro is supposed to be even better. To the guy that mentioned WMDs in Iraq, I assume you were trying to say they were never there. Please correct me if I'm wrong. They were there. Sadam Hussein had over 10,000 of WMDs before 2001. It is a known fact. He used less than 4,000 of them on his own citizens, the Khurds. He had no other well known bombings. Let's do some math. 10,000 WMDs - 4,000 WMDs = ?. You guessed it, 6,000 WMDs. What happened to these other 6,000 WMDs? Does anyone honestly and naively think that he destroyed them? Psychologically, that would make no sense. Why would he get rid of the only ace up his sleeve? The answer? He wouldn't. Much more likely an answer is that Spetznatz dressed as civilians moved the WMDs over the border to Syria. Several Cia briefs, in fact, mentioned exactly this scenario. At this point, people usually mention U.N. weapons inspectors. That's all well and good except for one problem. The U.N. weapons inspectors are as big a joke as DCFS or the Department of Child and Family Services. Both groups give announcements ahead of time on their intent to visit and observe conditions. With DCFS it is usually a few hours. With the U.N. weapons inspectors it was a couple of weeks. This is more than enough time for Hussein to get WMDs moved over the border to Syria. To those that say Chinese companies steal. They steal no more than other companies, especially Apple. Apple stole the term iPad from A Chinese company and finally settled out of court for over $150,000,000. That's only one of many examples I could use. Another one, Apple stole some copyrighted material from a software company in Texas and paid millions to them after settling out of court. People, please do some research so as to not look totally ignorant. To those mentioning possibilities on spying with Huawei, keep thinking logically and using your brains. That's a far cry from most people that tend to be mindless sheep. I am not, by any means, a definitive source. I just ask that you think about what I've said and do some real research for yourselves as I have done. Come to your own conclusions using logic and common sense which is not at all common.
  • No time for reason , no mind for critical thinking. It's the era of Alternative Facts and Fake News. It's "Us vs Them" , so you can only pick a side.
  • You people are all crazy. Completely insane.
  • Oh really? 😂😂
  • Another great write up from jerry, I love all these explaination articles, just like the Face ID tech. Thanks jerry. There’s a lot of misinformation out there and simple write offs that says governments don’t understand tech, and also they are not very upfront to explain in such detail that might compromise their stands.
  • That's Jerry for you, one insightful feature analyst....
  • Jerry, can you tell us if we will ever see a smartphone designed to give us maximum security and privacy ?
    A device that won't collect any of our data and share with anyone. Maybe not just an honest OEM, but even a new OS platform.
    Reading Lenovo's Privacy policy terms (or Any other OEM's) makes 1 very uncomfortable. And that's just the tip of the iceberg of the data we are willingly giving away.
    I know the issue very nuanced, but there has to be a way to get someone work on this kind of a Project.
  • Only by going back to a dumb phone perhaps. Everyone wants your data for various reasons but it's usually financial. If you're connected to the Internet and using apps, websites or services then you're most likely already feeding them your info. Google, Amazon, Facebook etc etc etc the list is endless are all doing it and usually by selling your data to third party companies to target you with ads and sell you stuff. I have an Amazon Echo Dot in my living room, use Facebook and various voice assistants and know fine well my data is doing the rounds based on my ads I receive but I'm still totally fine with it but many aren't and that's fine too. Short of going off grid I think personally that it's impossible to avoid some level of data loss to third parties
  • Have a look at this: Librem 5 – A Security and Privacy Focused Phone
    Looks like it could be a good solution when it comes out.
  • Wow , this really looks like something I was asking for :) let's wait and see
  • It definitely needs to be more clear about the updates for regular consumers. Seems like they offer some assurances for Enterprise clients, so we should see what they may give us at extra fee if possible.
  • First, a company needs to build a few of the services we use/need that don't use data as a form of currency. Every app and service designed for a phone only exists because it can collect data and pay for its own development.
  • I know that monetizing data is the core of Both OS and App design, but there would be a decent market for something that is really focused on keeping data safe as possible. Yes, that would mean lot more expensive phones and services, but many people and organizations would pay for it. Basically, they can offer mid range specs and a fat removable battery, so we don't have to keep buying phones every or every other year. Say, they sell Moto Z Play like phone for $700-800, but guarantee all necessary updates for the life of your device. And yeah, no camera installed at all - to save on resources both hardware and software. All services we would pay idk $20-40 a month. Companies would pay even more. That kind of a model might actually work.
    I don't know, but we could remove most of the App from eco system and a few would have to comply with specific terms or say, the OS would mostly run things through the web and in that way no Facebook can peek into your phone period. No Google can track my search, keyboard typing etc.
    What do you think, Jerry - will something like that come to existence?
  • Mostly Chinese companies: Huawei, One Plus, Lenovo... haven't heard of any Korean or US brand doing that.
  • LOL all of the people worried about Chinese spying but totally unconcerned about being spied on by their own government.
  • You'll get the same answers to that each and every time. "Better that than the Chinese" or "Better the devil you know"
  • Snowden? Is that you?
  • Last night my Mate10pro dropped from my bedside table. I blame the Chinese government!
    (Good thing this phone is so well built so the incident left no scratch)
  • Let's be honest here, there are definitely more iPhone in China than any "Chinese"phones here in the US. If the Chinese government didn't do anything about the iPhone & Apple, why is the us so …… what would be the word to describe this? I mean seriously, the US spy on everyone and every country that they can get to( you know there's many spy in China from the US) and if US make Apple to help to spy on the Chinese as well as government officials, it would probably more easier than the other way around ( consider lots of Chinese like iPhone).
  • Thanks for your input, comrade.
  • I still think Apple & Samsung have been involved with this deal. They don't want Huawei selling phones here in the US. With the money these two companies have it wouldn't surprise me in the least!
  • So the part of this that gets me is if there so worried why are they complaining most likely from there Lenovo computer?
  • Not got a clue what their problem is. Can't think of any electronic device that doesn't have parts made or assembled in China. Think it must have more to do with the company's themselves rather than being Chinese.
  • Thanks Jerry, the smartest guy I know... with big ones.
    The three letter gangs don't show their cards like this unless there a reason to do so as it is politically costly in their playground. It's a shot accross the bow at China is my guess and not about phones. The next world war will not be on the battlefield but in cyberspace. This scares the hell out of me as just one more indication we're headed that way sooner than later.
  • Great opinion article. Congrats.
  • Unless there is hard evidence that Huawei is spying I see no reason to not use their products. Looking forward to the mediapad m5 pro, p20, and the mate 11 pro.
  • In this case, I think I'll take the intel community's word for it.
  • Nothing about this warning makes a lot of sense. We are talking about consumer grade hardware here, not mil-spec stuff. It’s hard to believe that Huawei’s cellphones have a undetectable back door in them given how hard both the US government, the EU and others have probably looked. More importantly, what isn’t built in China these days? Laptops, desktops, routers, iPhones, loads of Android phones the list just goes on and on. Why of all this stuff is Huawei being singled out. And why now and not a decade or so ago?
  • I'm going into tinfoil hat territory here, but I'm wondering if the US Government doesn't want us to use Huawei phones because THEY can't get a backdoor into the phones to spy on us? Just a thought. I won't listen to a word from anyone in the Trump Administration. They lie about everything so their words are meaningless anyways.
  • I thought all Chinese companies were "owned" by the government to one degree or another? Why am I supposed to worry about Huawei when I'm not supposed to worry about TP-Link or TCL or any of the other Chinese devices in my house?
  • The US government is trying to limit products from China just because it is good at manufacturing anything and almost everything at a fraction of the labor costs if it were to be manufactured in the States. How about reducing the manufacturing and selling of guns on your own soil first? Majority of the US economy is based on manufacturing and selling guns within and outside the country. No country is perfect, In India, Chinese products are taking over swiftly, a Mi TV 4, 4K 55" HDTV at 700USD is a steal! Of course people won't buy Samsung, LG and Sony TVs because they cost 3-4 times more. Manufacturing costs in India too are higher than China. Inflation is on the rise and the pay parity isn't all that good and it keeps getting worse each year. It is all a domino effect of corruption, at least in India. It's a shame really that we, as a nation, have been "developing" since the past 70 years and still a big chunk of the population is below poverty line.
  • China as a rising economic power can't be trusted, it has been accused by several other governments of spying on their activities via tech equipment only that these stories never make it to the main stream media, even in the over 170 countries where they say they're trusted, they collect that data and it's used to their economic advantage and they get away with it especially in 3rd world countries, but at least not in the US, the republicans have succeeded in tarnishing their image.
    However the final decision to or not to purchase a Chinese made phone is up to an individual. That a side how about other Chinese OEMs who had a dream of establishing themselves in the US market!?
    Xiaomi,oppo, 1+, ... What if the Chinese government takes on a silly path to de-campaign Apple products in China??😎
  • "A backdoor in your phone is bad but a backdoor on a network switch on a company like Sprint's network is a lot worse." - Yes and no. If I use a VPN, anyone on the network can't read the data they see. Further, Communism means that the government can read the data anyways. The 10000000x easier option for Huawei is to go 100% open source down to the chips. Allow Stalman to compile his own code and firmware, can't open source Google Apps of course, but then when people can vet the code, you can prove there's nothing to hide, and no backdoors.
  • I half wonder if the real issue is that these companies DON'T have the normal OS backdoor that allow the NSA to (easily) illegally hack our phones. Frankly, I don't trust the US government with my data anymore than the ChiComs. Every phone is going to be spied on, illegally by every government. Samsung. Huawei. Apple. China. Britain. US. EU. Everyone Spies on its citizens now. If y'all don't know and accept that, you're a fool. I just want a great phone without breaking the bank. If Huawei gives me that over Samsung, that's where I am going.
  • China supports N Korea and Little Rocket Man is starving his own people while looking at him, he doesn't seem to miss a meal. China could do so much more to help this situation, they are also Building military bases in National Waters that they seem to think is theirs. Personally I will do anything I can to help, if that is simply not buying a product, count me in.
    Vinny 🇺🇸
  • Huawei is #3. It's based in China. Apple is a US company with its manufacturing base in China. Huawei is content with lower margins than Apple. Therefore, Huawei is a big commercial threat to what is currently the most important US corporation. And the US is at bottom very protectionist.
  • LOL, why is Apple "the most important" U.S. corporation? They make and sell consumer electronics; hardly critical to the country's survival. Personally, I prefer to continue eating, so I consider my local green grocer more "important" ;-)
  • Correct me if I'm wrong:
    CEO of Huawei is a "retired" Chinese spook.
  • Wait. iPhones are made in China, so explain the difference. Oh, they want to put their own spyware on the phones.
  • Dang, so every Nexus 6P owner got their info stolen by the Chinese? Don't get fooled by beautiful phones and low price...
  • Glad I'm using LG. I have not experienced anything strange or out of the ordinary from them.. they are a very honest company. Still have an LG Optimus Fuel, 3 years old but still playing music everyday, no problems at all.
  • No Nexus 6P owners got their info stolen by the Chinese. No Huawei owners got their info stolen by the Chinese. You should maybe read details a bit better
  • People are freaking out about this, but:
    1) Why does the Chinese government need to spy on you?
    2) The NSA does the exact same thing.
  • The author never addressed ZTE.
  • Yep, the US government's beef with Huawei is with China rather than Huawei, it's so obvious and so typically Trump.
  • Talk about ignorant. This started during the Obama administration. You should get your Trump Derangement Syndrome checked out. It's not healthy and makes you look like a fool.
  • If the US ic is worried about it, it means they are doing it. And if they are doing it, the Chinese ic is also doing it. China does a **** ton of corporate spying. It's a fact. Like the author suggests, it's not the phones to be worried about, it's the machines that run the internet that we should worry about.