Technology Nov 12

Huawei now US’ Room 101 

US aide warns Brazil, without offering evidence, of China tech giant’s 5G 'Big Brother' surveillance

by Se Young Lee
Huawei now US’ Room 101 
US Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment, Keith Krach speaks during a meeting with businessmen, economists and journalists to discuss excluding China's Huawei Technologies from Brazil's 5G market, in Brasilia. Photo: Reuters 

BRASILIA: A US official has said that Chinese surveillance of the world through 5G technology was like Big Brother in George Orwell's novel 1984, as he urged Brazilian companies not to buy equipment from China's Huawei Technologies.

Keith Krach, US under secretary of state for economic growth, energy and the environment, said multinational companies will increasingly stay away from countries that do not have safe civilian networks and risk their data and intellectual property being stolen.

"This story about the Chinese Communist party ... it is a real and urgent threat to democracies like ours around the world," Krach said in a speech on economic security at Brazil's Getulio Vargas Foundation think tank.

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"They are trying to export dictator out of the box with their surveillance tools. It is the extension of that Orwellian 1984 Big Brother surveillance," he said, without providing evidence.

Brazil's right-wing government announced its support on Monday for the US proposal for a Clean Network, a global digital alliance that excludes technology that Washington sees as manipulated by China.

Brazil became the 50th nation to sign on to the initiative, which now includes 170 telephone firms and many of the world's leading high-tech companies.

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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Tuesday that "27 of 30 NATO allies, 31 of 37 OECD members, 26 of 27 EU members, and 11 of 12 of the Three Seas nations" have joined.

In Brasilia, Krach met President Jair Bolsonaro's national security adviser, retired army general Augusto Heleno, to discuss excluding Huawei from Brazil's 5G market, a decision the Brazilian government is considering before spectrum concessions are auctioned next year to local telcos.

Brazil's top carriers are already testing Huawei equipment for 5G and favor keeping their purchase options open.

Huawei has repeatedly denied being a security risk. It has said it abides by Brazil's laws and is available for tests and clarifications that authorities considered necessary.

  • Reuters

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