The heads of six major intelligence organizations including the FBI, the CIA, and the NSA have warned Americans not to use phones made by Chinese manufacturers Huawei and ZTE.
The Verge reports that the heads of six major intelligence organizations have issued a warning in relation to Chinese technology manufacturer Huawei and telecom company ZTE. The heads of the CIA, FBI, NSA and the director of national intelligence all made a recommendation against using products produced by the tech companies at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Tuesday.
In a statement, FBI Director Chris Wray said that the government was “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.” Wray added that this would give foreign governments “the capacity to maliciously modify or steal information. And it provides the capacity to conduct undetected espionage.”
The US intelligence community has long been wary of Huawei, a Chinese tech firm founded by a former engineer from China’s People’s Liberation Army which has previously been described by US politicians as “effectively an arm of the Chinese government.” Huawei has been banned from bidding on US government contracts since 2014 as a result of warnings from US officials. However, the company’s consumer products manufacturing has increased in recent years. Last September Huawei surpassed Apple as the world’s second-biggest smartphone manufacturer, Samsung still holds the title of the largest.
Currently, a bill is being considered which would entirely ban US government employees from using Huawei and ZTE smartphones. Republican Senator Richard Burr, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said during Tuesday’s hearing “The focus of my concern today is China, and specifically Chinese telecoms like Huawei and ZTE, that are widely understood to have extraordinary ties to the Chinese government.”
A Huawei spokesperson replied to the intelligence officials in a statement to CNBC which says, “Huawei is aware of a range of U.S. government activities seemingly aimed at inhibiting Huawei’s business in the U.S. market. Huawei is trusted by governments and customers in 170 countries worldwide and poses no greater cybersecurity risk than any ICT vendor, sharing as we do common global supply chains and production capabilities.”