Spark vs Spooks

Written By: - Date published: 1:47 pm, February 13th, 2019 - 66 comments
Categories: China, interweb, military, Spying, surveillance, tech industry, telecommunications, trade, us politics - Tags:

Spark wants Huawei’s 5G technology because its the best and the cheapest. The GCSB spooks don’t want us to have it because 5Eyes, and because the US has yanked their chain. The Prime Minister says no decision has been made – the media and the world think it is a goneburger. We should support New Zealand’s Spark, not US corporate interests.

The FiveEyes spy agencies met in Canada in July 2018 and “agreed to do their best to contain the global growth of Chinese telecom Huawei.” And according to the Wall Street Journal in November 2018

The U.S. government has initiated an extraordinary outreach campaign to foreign allies, trying to persuade wireless and internet providers in these countries to avoid telecommunications equipment from China’s Huawei Technologies Co., according to people familiar with the situation.

Bloomberg News  opines that “The Spy Masters’ Case Against Huawei Is Flimsy: The Chinese phone maker’s biggest offense may be it’s too successful. So as consumers we should be asking why we are to be denied the best available technology. I like my Huawei phone.

But there is a more important reason as to why we should not just follow the FiveSpies of the Anglosphere. Huawei won’t be locked out of most of the world just because of  American dictate. Look ten or twenty years ahead, if we are stuck with whatever second-best clunker is available, we might be. Makes absolutely no sense to me.

An article by Barry Soper in today’s Herald contains some good pushback from the likes of David Mahon :

Asset management and corporate adviser David Mahon, based in Beijing, said governments needed to get over thwarting Chinese economic aims in a way reminiscent of the Cold War struggle between capitalism and communism. “It’s unhelpful for politicians and a few anti-Chinese professors to feed uncorroborated McCarthyite conspiracies about Chinese spy networks in their countries and targeting anyone who doesn’t share their view,” Mahon said.

and Philip Burdon:

We clearly need to commit ourselves to the cause of trade liberalisation and the integration of the global economy while respectfully and realistically acknowledging China’s entitlement to a comprehensive and responsible strategic and economic engagement in the region

Makes sense to me.

66 comments on “Spark vs Spooks ”

  1. Tiger Mountain 1

    may be interesting to see who comes out of the woodwork on this post…

    smaller nations in the 21st Century need an independent foreign policy more than ever as climate change bites, one not based on automatic subservience to US Imperialism and a long gone Cold War scenario

  2. One Two 2

    Releasing untested technology into the public domain…under the cover of the discussion about a single brands ‘security’…

    nothing about safety of the equipment and a modality used only as a crowd dispersal weapon, to pass data between end points…

    Argument 1.

    Any brand except Huawei

    Argument 2.

    We want the cheapest

    If any discussion voids climate change concern it is this…

    .

  3. Sanctuary 3

    Lolz it is an odd day when the left is lining up with the Quisling globalists like Philip Burdon to defend the right of a brutal dictatorship to sell us communications equipment!

    The Chinese government is completely responsible for the exclusion of Huawei from 5G. Under the dictatorship of Xi Jinping increasingly authoritarian and repressive intelligence laws have been passed in China that mean that for Chinese citizens and companies alike, participation in ‘intelligence work’ is a legal responsibility and obligation, regardless of geographic boundaries.

    That means when the most basic question is asked by our intelligence services vetting 5G vendors – “Can you guarantee that you or your staff won’t install spyware for a foreign power on your equipment” Huawei cannot give “yes” as an answer. This is an instant fail on your bid.

    • joe90 3.1

      More than a few have lined up with a corrupt, murderous thug and his war criminal mate so hardly surprising.

      • KJT 3.1.1

        “Can you guarantee that you or your staff won’t install spyware for a foreign power on your equipment” Huawei cannot give “yes” as an answer. This is an instant fail on your bid.

        Just disqualified all the US phone companies then, and the Aussies as well.
        Australian and US companies are required to provide back door access for their countries, spies.

    • Grant Insley 3.2

      Precisely!
      Simple facts that the media commentators fail to cover in their rush to paint lurid pictures.

      A simple google search shows the following:
      https://www.google.co.nz/search?biw=1670&bih=789&ei=RrljXISiGJKGyAOqz5WoBQ&q=Chinese+owned+companies+collect+dta+for+china&oq=Chinese+owned+companies+collect+dta+for+china&gs_l=psy-ab.3…16498.30445..30784…0.0..0.2171.15031.0j2j36j2j8-2j1……0….1..gws-wiz…….0i71j35i39j0i67j0j0i131j0i131i67j0i20i263j0i22i30j33i160j33i22i29i30j33i21j33i10j33i10i160.LHJvIleH9jg

    • Gareth 3.3

      I think you’ll find that their vice-president has publicly given that assurance: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0705mqj

      Meanwhile Lenovo which is also a Chinese company (took over Motorola) and competitor of Huawei, who have a higher market share in the US, and has been specifically cited by the Pentagon, MI6 and the CIA as having security flaws, but they face no calls to restrict use of their devices.

      These two companies are in much the same position but only Huawei gets called out.

      Odd.

    • Ike 3.4

      You don’t know what you are talking about. The Chinese system is not a dictatorship. If Xi was not performing he would be “gone by lunchtime”. It is not a democracy like NZ but there is probably more opportunity for the everyday person to influence government than western countries such as the USA where you need $$$$$$ to have any influence. Can you give any evidence at all for your last paragraph, Sanctuary, or was that simply made up.

  4. Anne 4

    The Chinese phone maker’s biggest offense may be it’s too successful.

    I have a vague recollection there was a fellow called Kim Dotcom who owned and ran a very successful business from NZ called Megaupload. Didn’t he have a spot of bother with some Hollywood movie tycoons who didn’t like an outsider encroaching on their self-imposed territory so they called in the FBI to do their dirty work for them? (sarc)

    Part of me wants the govt. to stick it in their craw by agreeing to Huawei just to show we don’t take kindly to bullies. We’ve done it before and won.

  5. We should support New Zealand’s Spark, not US corporate interests.

    Spark’s corporate interests are at least an NZ corporate’s interests, but then the GCSB is NZ’s telecomms security body so why should Spark’s financial interest override that body’s concerns?

    Huawei’s product is certainly cheaper than its competitors, which is great for Spark, but whether it’s better than the competitors is a matter of opinion.

    However, the issue the GCSB is concerned about is that the Chinese government regards Chinese companies as branches of government and legally holds them to that – not that “legally” really matters when the government is a murderous tyranny. Do you have a good reason why the GCSB shouldn’t be concerned at having a branch of the Chinese government handling NZ’s telecommunications? Because their concern makes a lot of sense to me.

      • Exkiwiforces 5.1.1

        Francesca,

        Sorry to nit pick, but the individual states within the USA are responsible for the police enforcement and the only Federal Law enforcements that the USA Federal Government have responsibilities is the FBI, FDA, their Border Control guys or whatever they are called and the TSA muppets.

        The Fed’s have no say over how the States train or maintain policing standards and even how the Police are deployed with the state. Hence why it’s a shit fight over in the “Land the Free”.

        Then you have the State Guard which is totally different to the USA Regular and Reserve Forces of USA as these a maintained by the Federal Government.

        • McFlock 5.1.1.1

          And then there’s the difference between “police department” and “sherriff’s department”, as well as some areas having “constables” (for things like property taxes I think) and San Fransisco has “patrol specials” (private police, basically security contract firms with police powers in their client areas). And state police, state bureaus of investigation, and so on. All of which are largely out of federal oversight.

          Which is why Trump might be in the shit with his tax returns – even if he pardons himself, chances are that New York State might be interested, and federal pardons don’t apply to state charges.

          Hurts my brainpan sometimes.

          • Andre 5.1.1.1.1

            New York city also levies income taxes separately to NY state and the IRD.

            Jabba the Drumpf may have to live out the rest of his life as a tax exile in Mar-a-Swampo.

            https://www.thebalance.com/new-york-city-income-tax-3193280

          • Exkiwiforces 5.1.1.1.2

            I know when you are coming from McFlock, I was trying to keep it nice and short or else it would’ve turned into a World and Peace write up/ post.

            I’ve worked alongside the US Reg’s, Reserve and the US State Guard on Op’s and on peacetime Ex’s. Trying to get them to explain State/ Local Law enforcements is as you say a brain f*** for us mere mortals and as I use to say thank **** I don’t live there mate as you can have that shit fight.

        • Ike 5.1.1.2

          No mention of the CIA and the FBI. Probably responsible for the deaths of Martin Luther King , John and Robert Kennedy and in my opinion implicated in 911. (Oh we are not supposed to mention that are we) But you don’t have to look internally to see that the USA is a murderous regime. Just look at the countries they have meddled in and caused untold death and destruction. I grow tired of listing them. Libya, Afghanistan, Syria, Viet Nam, Panama, Chile, Ukraine to name but a few. Is everybody in some sort of hypnotic trance induced by TV1,TV3 and National Radio. Sure China has a few disputes with neighboring states but it just isn’t in the same league as the USA when it comes to being a “murderous tyranny”

          • Exkiwiforces 5.1.1.2.1

            I left the CIA out as it’s a external Federal Dept not a Federal domestic dept one like the FBI, ATF and the DEA etc and I was trying to avoid the Kennedy’s, old mate Luther and especially 9/11. But I do understand where you are going with your reply.

            I really don’t trust either one atm and if I’m push to choose one? Then I will pick the US as it’s better the evil you know, than the evil you don’t know IRT to China.

            • Ike 5.1.1.2.1.1

              Fair enough. Personally I think China, conquering the world through trade, is less of an evil than the USA conquering the world through lies, deceit and military adventures.
              NZ needs to be alert to both

      • Psycho Milt 5.1.2

        Your inability to discern a difference between liberal democracies with rule of law on the one hand and totalitarian despotism on the other is your own problem, not mine.

        • KJT 5.1.2.1

          The USA is the worlds biggest supporter of totalitarian despots, as well as owing China, trillions.

          Personally I think any company that wants to sell IT equipment to New Zealand should have to prove that their are no backdoors for their, or any, Governments to spy on New Zealanders.

          Apart from security risks, back doors make networks more vulnerable to any type of hacking.

      • Sanctuary 5.1.3

        First of all,

        “…So we shouldn’t mind them hoovering up our private data…”

        That already happens. We are part of the five eyes alliance and we get to see and share what is collected within a mutually consensual relationship. Huawei collecting our data would be more akin to a secret camera installed in the bedroom of unsuspecting people than a consensual relationship.

        while Anti-Americanism on this site is rampant with whataboutism the difference between the United States and China can be neatly summed up by the currently Huawei advertising campaign. Try running a similar campaign in China against a government decision you disagree with and see how far you get. But in liberal democracies, even flawed ones like the USA, you can run such ad campaigns. If you cannot see the fundamentally terrifying nature of the brutal regime in Beijing because of a visceral anti-Americanism then you are just a fool.

    • Incognito 5.2

      Can Huawei set up a subsidiary company to get around this, similar to our banks with all their parents in Oz?

      • KJT 5.2.1

        They could just buy a US company, like the one that bought Motorola.

        • dukeofurl 5.2.1.1

          They bought the Motorola cellphone business, (off Google who kept the patents) not the Motorola electronics business, now called Motorola Solutions

          The cell network infrastructure business went to Nokia Siemens

  6. Macro 6

    Look the sad fact is that 5G and 6G technologies at this point in time, because of their inherent design are less secure than the current 4G network. 5G is a far more distributed technology, but because of this it has the potential to be far less secure.
    A good article on the subject has been published here .
    https://www.networkworld.com/article/3315626/network-security/5g-and-6g-wireless-technologies-have-security-issues.html
    There are other issues wrt Hauwei and the ability to put in place back doors for snooping within this technology because if its inherent insecurity.
    The GCSB (as are the other communication security agencies around the western world) are calling for caution on this – and so they should.

  7. One Two 7

     Why Were Older People Excluded?

    No One Wants To Talk About It

    The Australian study runs counter to a paper published earlier this year by Alasdair Philips and coworkers in the U.K. They showed that the incidence of glioblastoma (GBM), the most aggressive type of brain tumor, more than doubled in England between 1995 and 2015.

    Karipidis and Croft reported that they saw no increase in any of brain tumor subtypes, including GBM.

    “By stopping at age 59, they are missing the group with the largest increase in GBM, and those with the most exposure to mobile phone radiation,” Philips told me from his home in Scotland. “This is impossible to justify.”

    “Frankly, I find their limited analysis shocking and I don’t understand how it cleared peer review,” Philips said.

    Security, is a red herring!

    • DJ Ward 7.1

      TABLE 1Age-adjusted Incidence per 100,000 Persons (ICD-O Morphology Code 9450) in Different Countries

      Region Years Overall Ref
      United States 2006–2010 3.19 2
      Australia 2000–2008 3.40 13
      England 1999–2003 2.05 14
      Korea 2005 0.59 15
      Greece 2005–2007 3.69 17
      Jordan 2012–2013 0.89 16

      Clearly the world is going to end due to mobile phones. The Koreans are dying on mass at about 1/2 a person every 100,000 at like you implied into there 60s on average. They use mobile phones as much as anybody so they are doomed.

      From.

      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK470003/#!po=14.5833

      • One Two 7.1.1

        You’re not paying attention to the premise of the comment, the data provided, nor the actors involved and the roles they are playing…

        It is not simply about a single form of cancer or a single cause…it is about how constituent parts are working in unison to prevent the conversations required to be held, from making mainstream consciousness…

        And yet despite the industry efforts, globally the wheels are coming off as the real science begins to surface…and people are paying attention this time…

        The attempt to connect all machines and apilliances, is not world for biological beings…the environment required will not survive it…

        Widen your scope…

        • DJ Ward 7.1.1.1

          So how do you reconcile any tech being introduced?
          Washing machines, fridges, TV etc. They have revolutionary effect on our lives. If tech connects these devices do you think they will take over our lives? Surely they will become more efficient and use less energy.

          Are you suggesting they will develope or be infected with AI and decide to save the planet by exterminating humans?
          Or how dare they turn off a lightbulb if nobody is in a room for a set period of time. Or analyse our hot water use so they can heat the cylinder only when it predicts we will use it. The TV might even analyse our programme watching and turn on the jug knowing we have a cup of tea right at the first add break of the morning news. The fridge might organise groceries knowing the milk is getting low and you need a new lettuce, resulting in a van dropping goods off to 20 houses saving 19 car trips. Don’t worry about going on the bike to shift the cows, the gate will open itself. The water will turn itself on in the new paddock, and turn it off in the old paddock reducing wasted water, the electric fences are on the network as well so no wasted energy where it’s not being useful.
          So what do you mean by not survive it. I’m not going to buy something if it’s going to ruin my life, so what do you suggest people will be buying. I’m also struggling with how you see it affecting the environment when there is clear gains in energy efficiency possible. Look at how technology using mobiles in cars have resulted in people not getting lost and taking the best route. Lots of savings for the environment compared to not having it.

          • One Two 7.1.1.1.1

            DJW , you’ve asked too many irrelevant questions which, if you had been reading my comments regarding wireless tech in recent weeks…you would know what my thoughts are…

            I’ll give the most simple statement I can generate…

            The wireless and supporting terrestial infrastructure will put such stress onto human, animal and plant…that there won’t be savings as you imagine they will manifest…

            And that is not even including the raw materials used in manufaturing of transmitting devices built into appliances which IoT enthusiasts fantasize about…

            Massively increased consumption forced by IoT, is for corporate revenue and profit…nothing more…and will likely negate any improvements or imagined gains…

            The frequencies required to handle the data traffic and their effects on human, animal and plant are NOT to part of the discussion…

            Why…because there is already much material from damage caused by existing wireless networks…if it was scaled up and honestly discussed…it would be laughed out of the room due to risk…

            LLOYDs of London/ SWISS RE et al won’t insure against harm/damage caused by EMf/R…figure it out…

            Widen your scope…

            • DJ Ward 7.1.1.1.1.1

              Ok then what do you propose as a solution.

              Banning devices, or the Internet, or the use of silicon, or whatever else.

              The change from going to a shop and shopping online will increase consumerism but it has also enabled more recycling like Trade Me. Eventually as resources become limited prices increase and consumerism drops in response. However as resources become limited humans will find alternatives, recycling % will increase.

              An example is copper which due to scarcity has become more and more expensive, so some manufacturers for wiring have switched to aluminium which is abundant, and the recycling price for copper is attractive. Presently important elements like Lithuim will become redundant compared to todays use and otherwise join the recycling industry.

              Plastics will be replaced with bio plastics etc etc.

              The alternative is a return to about 1939, or even further back to serfdom.

              Last time I looked you can insure mobile phones. Maybe they don’t insure networks as breakdowns and payouts from that would be too huge and too common. Imagine a breakdown where everybody with a mobile gets a $10 credit on there account. So about $3,000,000,000 for a small outage in the US. Have you got any evidence there is no insurance due specifically to this world ending ‘harm’ your not quantifying.

              • One Two

                Let’s start at the present time….Instead of asking what my solution would be…it should be self explanatory if you can answer the question below….

                * Name a major global problem or threat which current technology, understanding and knowledge can’t provide a solution for…and why not (no fantasizing about unknown unknowns)…present time problems…all created by human beings…ideologies etc…

                Ok..

                Tens to Hundreds of billions MORE devices, appliances transceivers, sensors (machines) …all requiring this planet to be teraformed by machines to support a world of machines….where do human, animal , plant fit into a world for which the core design premise…is to enable and support machines….

                Machines which require:

                Materials
                Manufacture
                Transport
                Install
                Replacement
                Maintenance
                Support
                Decommission
                [you get the idea]

                And one more time….the communications networks and storage facilities to control every single device and appliance and every bit of data generated from every single component….

                Make no mistake, this is imagined as forever-land for the corporations and the technocrats who control them…

                They consider themselves trans-humanists who share a universal sentiment ….they consider human beings as weak and broken…a liability to be replaced with [something superior]….

                No need for the environment under such circumstances…which could explain why the generic ‘big tech/telco’ industry are seeking to rollout next generation networks without any regulatory oversight…

                There is a small number of commentators on this site who have the vision and wisdom to comprehend the gravitas of the subject, even if they may not understand some of the technical aspect…

                The technical roadmaps pre-empt the dangers of climate change, and will absolutely amplify the existing problems…for what exactly….

                It’s not been defined clearly….but it doesn’t matter…because it is an automated roadmap, which after a certain point, will no longer require human input…this is widely understood within associated industry…

                https://media.swissre.com/documents/SONAR_2014.pdf

                Page 30: Emerging Risk Themes

                Terms and definitions:

                What are emerging risks?

                We define emerging risks as newly developing or changing risks that are difficult to quantify and could have a major impact on society and industry

                HIGH [among the list]

                * Unforeseen consequences of electromagnetic fields

  8. Ad 8

    Mike Smith looks for argument support from the Wall Street Journal, Barry Soper, Bloomberg, and Philip Burdon. Top work fellow traveller.

    How much further up the capacious ass of statist capitalism and its trumpeters can anyone crawl seeking solid evidence rather than inhaling the hot air up there and come out stating they smell perfume?

    Why not ask: why are other countries such as Germany also raising major security concerns about Huawei? More conspiracy?

    Would China allow a US telco to provide key technology for its networks? Of course not!

    • Mike Smith 8.1

      This comment is abusive and qualifies for a Darwin award. Please read the policy and take it as a warning.

  9. Ad 9

    And some solids from the UK Huawei Cyber Security Evaluation Centre:

    https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/727415/20180717_HCSEC_Oversight_Board_Report_2018_-_FINAL.pdf

    Third finding:

    “…identification of shortcomings in Huawei’s engineering processes have exposed new risks in the UK telecommunication networks and long-term challenges in mitigation and management.”

    • xanthe 9.1

      Hmm thats an interesting read Ad, it seems that these problems are to do with third party systems and the difficulties in getting the software to a point that is essentially open sourced (ie will compile to binary from source code held by UKHCSEC). While it is disappointing that this is proving difficult (but not unexpected) I suggest that for huawai to be cooperating and working with UkHCSEC on this task is a strong positive.
      My own view is that repeatable binaries from source code held by responsible independant entities (or indeed the public) is the best approach availiable for secure devices at this time. Of course I would advocate personally that all public infrastructure be transparently open sourced and such a policy in the procurement of telecommunications gear woukd be fair, transparent, and open to all suppliers who were willing to go there. In any case it looks like huawai is willing to make the effort in this direction

      • Mike Smith 9.1.1

        An article in the Financial Times by Robert Hannigan, former director of GCHQ, is headlined “Blanket bans on Chinese tech companies like Huawei make no sense.” He concludes”The UK and other foreign companies should hold their nerve and base decisions on Chinese involvement in future telecoms on technical expertise and rational assessment of risk, rather than political fashion or trade wars. We should accept that China will be a global tech power in the future and start managing the risk now, rather than pretending the West can sit out China’s technological rise.”

        • xanthe 9.1.1.1

          Yes agree rational assessment of risk and exploring ways to mitigate that risk is the only way to actually improve security. blanket bans on the basis of current geopolitical gamesmanship is extreme folly

          But in the case of the UK (if you read the link posted by AD above) meaningful and concrete steps towards just that sort of risk identification and mitigation are well underway. so a ban by UK govt at this time (as a 5eyes pawn) would make no rational sense and would dismantle the work underway with huawai

          The GCSB act is broken (surprise surprise) if they can veto on the basis of “5eyes dont trust them”.

          The task of risk identification should not rest with GCSB as they also hold a mandate for clandestine risk exploitation!. a more obvious conflict is hard to imagine.

  10. Infused 10

    Your showing you have no knowledge of the matter.

    All of their tech was stolen from nortel hack over a decade.

    No security expert trusts the firmware or software running on their devices.

  11. ken 11

    China needs our food more than we need their crappy plastic junk.
    Cut all ties with them.

    • francesca 11.1

      Just wait a little bit Ken
      Once China’s middle class grows to the point their families can live off a single income, women will return to breast feeding, and baby formula will be seen to be the scam it is.
      Bang goes our powdered milk income.

  12. Shadrach 12

    “The Prime Minister says no decision has been made…”

    Then what is this about (https://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=12203566)

    “New Zealand has lost its favoured status with the Chinese political leadership following the Government decision to rule Huawei out of the 5G mobile build here, says Beijing based kiwi businessman David Mahon.”

    This ‘decision’ seems to already be having a seriously negative impact on China/NZ relations. So has it been made or not?

    Edit: “In November, New Zealand’s Government Communications Security Bureau (GSCB) told telco Spark it couldn’t use proposed gear from Huawei – the world’s largest telecom equipment company – in the rollout of its 5G network because an unspecified “significant network security risk was identified”.” https://www.msn.com/en-nz/money/news/huawei-tries-rugby-charm-in-nz-after-ban/ar-BBTvzBe?ocid=spartanntp

  13. Shadrach 13

    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12204024

    There is more ‘evidence’ every day of a strain in the relationship. Our PM and her deputy are getting caught out in lies and obfuscation on an almost daily basis.

  14. Mark 14

    Winston is a racist wrecker.

    If it was not for China, New Zealand long ago would have hit unemployment rates of 20 to 30%

    And if the Chinese bugger off now, the NZ economy is rooted.

    New Zealand is China’s 44th ranked trading partner amounting to 0.29% of their total trade.

    China is New Zealand’s no 1 trading partner, with trade amounting to 25% of our total exports.

    So we need China much more than China needs New Zealand.

  15. Eco Maori 15

    I did tell a old story don’t bite the hand that feeds you.

    The other story Eco Maori tolded the only people that know what is best for Aotearoa is Aotearoa people don’t listen to over seas advice they don’t care about the bad effects that there advice has on Aotearoa. As for the GCSB and SIS They idolise the USA CIA FBI ECT so they will do what ever the USA Tells them to do LOOK at the Kim dot com case broke all laws to please the USA Ana to kai. Ka kite ano P.S and the only time ONES data is safe is if you are in a room that is sound prof and line with something that blocks radio WAVES with no Internet connection or if you live on MARS

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  • Speech to Employers and Manufacturers Association: Relief for today, hope for tomorrow
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  • Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill passes first reading
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