The U.S.’s battle with Huawei continues. Most recently, the U.S. accused the tech giant of spying on users via “backdoors” developed for the use of law enforcement, Business Insider reports.
U.S. officials originally told the Wall Street Journal that Huawei built equipment that allowed it to access other tech companies using interfaces created for law enforcement, all without having to alert carriers. Business Insider says this is the first time the U.S. has provided details about how it thinks Huawei is spying for China.
Huawei has pushed back against the allegations, saying in a statement “they don’t adhere to any form of accepted logic in the cyber security domain. Huawei has never and will never covertly access telecom networks, nor do we have the capability to do so.” The tech giant also said that it “is only an equipment supplier,” and doesn’t have the ability “to bypass carriers, access control, and take data from their networks without being detected…”
A Lesson in Back Doors
Business Insider highlights this latest case with Huawei to further question whether or not it’s safe for tech companies to build vulnerabilities like backdoors for law enforcement to use. The idea to have them appears to make sense; for example, law enforcement can tap into vulnerabilities to break into devices of criminals to solve a case, and ultimately protect the public. Business Insider says that the U.S. has pressured large tech companies to develop methods for law enforcement to more easily pass through security measures, such as encryption.
However, even if the intent is to protect users, weakening security measures further puts those same users and their data at risk. “Introducing back doors weakens the internet for everyone, and leaves it so much more vulnerable to everyone from cybercrime rings to authoritarian regimes,” Michael Veale, an expert in digital right and regulations, told Business Insider. Veale also says that the U.S.’s accusations of Huawei only heighten the reasons as to why incorporating backdoors and other vulnerabilities is risky. If Huawei is accused of using backdoors to spy on other countries, who’s to say the U.S. and other governments couldn’t be accused of the same?
“If anything, this new encryption debate highlights the greediness, laziness, and cost-cutting desires of national governments and their willingness to throw fundamental rights and economic trust under a bus in search of a shortcut to avoid investing in proper investigative capacity,” Veale told Business Insider.