How do you feel about purchasing Huawei products?

Discussion in 'Off Topic Chat' started by lovelaptops, Mar 3, 2019.

  1. lovelaptops

    lovelaptops My friends call me Jeff Senior Member

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    I wish I could rename this thread I started (can I?) I really don't care what people think of Huawei's consumer tech! I was hoping to generate dialog about the the imminent threat that the Chinese dictatorship-controlled company represents to the free world. Read previous posts and links if you don't know why and how.

    France, Germany and the UK have decided that it's worth saving a few bucks to expose global networks to Chinese cyber crimes by virtue of backdoor access to 5G networks. This is the first and only time I strangely find my views aligned with the Trump administration (even a broken clock is right twice a day!). Among the sad and bitter ironies of the decisions by the US European and UK "allies" is that both their governments and populations are probably supporting the Chinese takeover of global 5G networks largely because Trump opposes it. The one time since taking office he has a sensible strategic security and technology policy he has made its global defeat a self-fulfilling prophecy simply by advocating it.

    This is an off-topic thread. The question about boycotting Huawei products was not meant to be code for: "do you think they're good products?" or "do you think your privacy is at greater risk from a Huawei phone than a Google/Android phone?" Rather, I'm asking:

    1) Do you think we should take collective action as a tech community, even on a small level such as a consumer boycott?

    2) Are you concerned about the risks to democratic freedom posed by China's control of the networks of the next decade and beyond? Why or why not?

    3) For those of you who are interested in this topic (others just pass it by), what do you think about this issue, and do you have knowledge /expertise to lend on the subject.

    Many thanks.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 24, 2020
  2. desertlap

    desertlap Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    @lovelaptops
    Jeff, I don't think you can avoid it and that is what makes it so vexing. For instance spyware/snoopware loaded or not, Huawei purely from a hardware standpoint either makes by far the fastest (in the case of 5G) or equipment that is an excellent value proposition strictly in terms of dollars per feature/performance in the case of their phones.

    Because of the risks, when we tested the MatePro tablet we had to put it on its own separate network and create a group of "burner accounts" just to mitigate the risk.

    Going to those lengths though is simply utterly impractical for any US company or far that matter 99.99% of the consumers.

    OTOH , I've observed more than a bit of apathy about the whole topic with the general consumer populace who A> Think that everyone already does it anyway including Google, Amazon and Apple and B: often think that they probably aren't doing anything that puts them at great risk e.g my brother in law who bought a Huawei phone but "won't be using it for purchases or banking so I'll be ok "

    Speaking for myself , a few years ago I got absolutely hassled for about six months when I lost my iPhone when it fell out of my bag at customs somehow unlocked. They attempted to open multiple accounts at financial institutions and even did stuff like hijack my hulu and Netflix accounts. Hulu actually cancelled my account for abusing their TOS.

    So to put a point on it, I think what Apple and Google are doing is generally a good thing, but it has it's limitations. I also know of a small company that wanted to produce a ruggedized android tablet but the barriers erected both by Google and in their case the UK government made it financially impossible to accomplish.
     
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  3. lovelaptops

    lovelaptops My friends call me Jeff Senior Member

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    @desertlap, thanks for the thoughtful - as always - comments. What I am uncomfortable about in your post is the suggestion that the speed or cost of Huawei's networking gear can rightly convince western democracies to purchase and deploy it. Among many analogies - and this one is extreme and impossible just to illustrate the risks - suppose a Russian or Chinese company made the fastest, cheapest fighter planes or armored vehicles and would sell them to any bidder, but the enemy government could clearly hack the hardware to sabotage a military mission.

    Clearly nether we, nor our allies would purchase such hardware. I would argue that 5G networks are a platform of both commercial and strategic/military application, and thus we and our allies have no choice but to, a) go with the best available hardware and software not controlled by our adversaries (not that cyber risks won't still be present, but greatly reduced) and, b) pool our resources (US, UK, EU, Japan, S. Korea) to improve our 5G tech. For the short run, perhaps our networks are slower and more costly, but the alternative seems insane. Here's a thought: let the US stop pressuring Nato countries to spend so much on defense if the deploy the resources to defray the cost of temporarily more costly gear and of increased R&D to become competitive. Trump's destruction of the NATO alliance (I am American, btw) makes this much harder to achieve, but I don't see how the Nato countries can conscionably purchase the Chinese network gear.

    Again, no criticism meant by this, but a serious discussion of this would not include brands like Apple, Google or "Matebook," but only ones like Nokia, Ericsson and Samsung (Alcatel?) who compete in the networking hardware space.

    I am far from knowledgeable about the current state of networking technology, cyber security or military strategy, but I've read enough (some linked in earlier posts, much more since) to know that this issue has moral, ethical and geopolitical dimensions. I was thinking the overlap to the TPCR community would be the ubiquity of the Huawei consumer brand, but only as a bridge to the broader and more consequential considerations.

    Admittedly, this thread should have a more appropriate title. Anyone know if the creator can change the title or get this discussion closed and moved to a new thread with a new name?
     
  4. desertlap

    desertlap Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    Well you hit the nail on the head when you say that tech is currently used both for commerce and government (including military ) applications. Many years ago I was working at Northern Telecom and it was an open secret that the US government knew of and exploited flaws in the router and switch software of the devices we sold.

    For that matter, I know of several people that are convinced that our government continues to know about and exploit flaws in Windows and Ciscos router OS for covert purposes . In fact the malware that took down parts of Iran's reactors and power grid supposedly found it's way in to them via Cisco equipment.

    Additionally you can't overestimate the incentive that performance plays in all of this with everything from big stock trading to outcome modeling.

    I've heard it speculated that in Huwaei case, one of the reasons that pricing is as low is as it is, is because the Chinese government essentially subsidizes them. Similar claims were made against Nokia and Verizon too.

    Again lots of rumors and speculation in the above so take it as such,

    Two other anecdotes related to this.

    One, supposedly Samsung has to destroy about 25% of the devices returned to them as defective, not because they have faulty hardware, but because they are so deeply infected with malware that can't be removed. They have openly speculated that there are people buying these devices, infecting them and then returning them solely for the purpose of spreading it. Our own rep said that he would never buy a refurbed or returned android device from anybody but directly from Samsung for this reason. Of course he has a vested interest here, but still.

    The second anecdote was from early in Jobs return to Apple. Allegedly the US and UK governments wanted to buy the software and tech behind the handwriting recognition in the Newton. Flawed as it was, the US allegedly found use for it in detecting forgery. Jobs allegedly refused because of the serious privacy issues that selling it brought.

    TLDR. I'm still struggling with this personally and it's a constant topic in my company as well as our customers, with no resolution in sight.
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2020
  5. lovelaptops

    lovelaptops My friends call me Jeff Senior Member

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    @desertlap, you worked for Northern Telecom/Nortel Networks? Me too. 1983-1988! Talk about a waste of a treasure of a company!
     
  6. desertlap

    desertlap Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    I did, 1992-93. Very dysfunctional division I was in, thus the short term
     
  7. lovelaptops

    lovelaptops My friends call me Jeff Senior Member

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    Yeah, but the final decline occurred in the late 90s when they went on an acquisition binge to get out of circuit switching and into packet switching. Historic bankruptcy. Many hugely valuable tech assets destroyed, others scattered as bankruptcy court sold them out.
     
  8. Bronsky

    Bronsky Wait and Hope. Senior Member

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    Just when I say that, Huawei comes out with some quality hardware. Not enough to tempt me to buy one for a number of reasons, but the quality of the hardware looks top shelf and the price is near bargain basement.
    https://liliputing.com/2020/02/huaw...tablet-with-pen-keyboard-and-optional-5g.html

    If nothing else, it might wake up other manufacturers.
     
  9. lovelaptops

    lovelaptops My friends call me Jeff Senior Member

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    Don't forget, their R&D and mfg costs are subsidized by the Chinese government so thay can dump products at below-cost prices. Also, they have a near monopoly to sell in the 2nd largest, fastest growing market in the world. Hard not to excel with those advantages. Tech reviewers have no knowledge or no interest in those facts, so they just do straight up comparisons. Does anyone have facts to dispute this?

    Within the next 5 yrs their consumer products and network equipment will dominate in Europe, UK, South America and Africa. This is part and parcel of their "Belt and Road" global strategy and, with only the US, feebly and in competently resisting, their dominance is assured. Look out Samsung and even Apple. When you attain 75% market share, you are the defacto low cost producer and your resources - backed up by China, Inc, will dwarf western tech companies.

    I know I sound like a cliche, but this is all as factual as it is scary.
     
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