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article imageDemocratic National Committee warns not to use Huawei, ZTE phones

By Ken Hanly     Aug 4, 2018 in Technology
The US Democratic National Committee (DNC) is warning all Democrats to avoid using any Huawei or ZTE devices, after it learned that one of its associated organizations was contemplating buying ZTE phones for members.
DNC worried about the security of Chinese phones
Bob Lord chief security officer of the DNC said in an internal security memo reported by CNN: “It’s very important that party and campaign workers not use ZTE or Huawei devices, even if the price is low or free.” Lord also warned that devices from either company should not be used for work or even personal use.
The warning follows those already provided by federal officials back in February. In testimony before a Senate committee, CIA, NSA, and FBI chiefs all claimed that the companies were linked to the Chinese government and the devices could be used for undetected espionage. However, both companies have denied that there are any cybersecurity concern with use of the phones.
Both Chinese companies have long been singled out by the US government for possible ties to Beijing. As far back as 2012 the House Intelligence Committee said that Huawei and ZTE are serious risks to national security. The claim is that the devices could spy on Americans and send info back to China. Huawei is also under investigation for violating US sanctions related to Iran.
The DNC does not seem to be acting on any new information. However the group may be on alert for security threats after Russian military officials hacked the committee back in 2016. Yet, these are Chinese firms.
Huawei
As described by Wikipedia: "Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd....is a Chinese multinational networking, telecommunications equipment, and services company headquartered in Shenzhen, Guangdong. It is the largest telecommunications equipment manufacturer in the world, having overtaken Ericsson in 2012. In 2018, Huawei became 72nd of Fortune Global 500 in Fortune Magazine. Since 2018, Huawei is the second largest smartphone manufacturer in the world."
Huawei has over 170,000 employees as of September 2015. Around 76,000 do research and development. It has 21 research and development (R& D) institutes located in countries such as China, the US, Canada, UK, Pakistan, Finland, Belgium, Sweden, Russia, Turkey, Israel and many others.
In 2014 the company invested $6.4 billion in R & D up from $5 billion in 2013. Huawei products and services are deployed in more than 170 countries. It also serves 45 of the world's 50 telecoms operators. As of June 2016 the company was designing its own operating system for use in the future. It also aims to be one of the world's five largest cloud players in the near future.
ZTE
ZTE Corporation is a Chinese global telecommunications equipment and systems company. It is headquartered in Shenzhen, Guandong China. It is one of China's leading telecom equipment makers.
According to Wikipedia: "ZTE operates in three business units: carrier networks (54%), terminals (29%) and telecommunication (17%), their core products being wireless, exchange, access, optical transmission, and data telecommunications gear; mobile phones; and telecommunications software. It also offers products that provide value-added services,.. such as video on demand and streaming media.... ZTE is one of the top five largest smartphone manufacturers in its home market."
Both Huawei and ZTE have faced criticism in the United States over potential ties with the government of China that it is claimed could enable surveillance, although both companies deny such claims.
In 2017 ZTE was fined for illegally exporting US technology to Iran and North Korea. In April 20018 after the company failed to reprimand the employees involved the US Department of Commerce banned any US companies from exporting to ZTE for seven years. The company uses many US parts in its devices. This ban was lifted after ZTE replaced senior management and also agreed to pay additional fines as well as establishing an internal compliance team. The lifting of the ban is still an issue in the United States.
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