The most frightening thing about today’s worldwide communications infrastructure is that it gives foreign governments the ability to violate our privacy. Michael Hayden, a former director of the CIA and the NSA, has accused the Chinese telecom manufacturer Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd of spying for China.
Hayden believes that Huawei, which manufactures networking and other equipment, is sharing its knowledge of the communications infrastructure of the U.S. and other nations with Chinese intelligence agencies. Hayden claims he has hard evidence that Huawei has engaged in espionage for the Chinese government.
For Hayden to make such allegations is very hypocritical when considering Edward Snowden’s revelations that the agencies Hayden formerly headed (the NSA and CIA) did exactly the same thing. They financed or strong armed U.S. technology and telecom companies into violating the privacy of their customers. They have even paid them millions on record as we have reported in the past.
Recent news articles indicate that the British and French have similar spying operations. The British equivalent of the NSA, the GHQC, has tapped into fiber optic cables that connect countries and collected vast amounts of data from emails, telephone calls, internet searches, and Facebook posts. A lot of this information was apparently shared with the NSA.
So what is Hayden really concerned or angry about here? He’s probably upset that the Chinese didn’t share the information they gathered with his agencies. If the Communist secret police agencies were willing to trade data with their American counterparts, it would likely be all right in Hayden’s mind.
Tip of The Iceberg
The problem is that Huawei (which is privately held, so we don’t know who really owns it) is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Chinese government involvement when it comes to internet surveillance. Beyond Huawei, there’s Baidu, the Chinese search engine widely hailed by stock market geeks as the Google of China. Baidu got control of the Chinese search engine business by doing whatever Beijing told it.
Google isn’t allowed in China because its executives refused to get into bed with the Communist party. Note one of Google’s founders, Sergey Brin, is a refugee from Soviet Communism whose father was unable to work or go to graduate school in Russia because he was Jewish. This experience might color Google’s attitude towards Communists of any stripe.
Baidu has been losing market share heavily in China, so it recently bought something called 91 Wireless. 91 Wireless is China’s number one private app store; it sells Android apps and makes a lot of money because Google Play isn’t available in China. Baidu and its Communist masters want an app store because nobody is in control of the app market in China.
A Motley Fool analyst called the app market in China “Mad Max” because of all the freelance apps floating around there, as Chinese citizens use homemade apps or those created by independent private creators in order to avoid government tracking. The Chinese people don’t trust the products their government and its stooges make and instead look for alternatives. Perhaps we Americans should learn from the Chinese in this regard.