On Tuesday at a U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, American intelligence chiefs said its citizens should not use phones manufactured by Huawei and ZTE.
The directors of the CIA, FBI, NSA, as well as the director of national intelligence appeared before the committee, and they all issued the same warning against the two Chinese tech giants.
Chris Wray, who is the director of the FBI, said during his testimony that he was worried about letting any company or organization have access to American telecommunication networks when such a company or organization was bound by a foreign power that does not share American values. He went on to say that, by allowing this to happen, it would give these foreign powers the ability to steal or modify proprietary information. It would also give them the ability to spy on the United States without detection.
U.S. intelligence agencies have been suspicious of Huawei for many years. The Chinese company was founded by an engineer who previously worked for the People’s Liberation Army in China, and many in the U.S. government think that the company is essentially an extension of the Chinese government. It was this that led the U.S. government to ban Huawei in 2014 from receiving government contracts.
Huawei began as a telecommunication company that manufactured various forms of infrastructure-related hardware. But it has since become a major worldwide producer of smartphones. Last fall it even surpassed Apple to become the second largest manufacturer of the devices in the world, trailing only Samsung.
However, Huawei has so far failed to have much success in America, mostly because of the actions of the U.S. government. In January, it was about to announce an agreement to sell its phones through AT&T, but the deal fell through at the last moment, reportedly because of government pressure.
U.S. legislators are currently considering a bill that would prevent government employees from using phones made by either Huawei or ZTE.