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Optus & TPG Partner Described As National Security Risk & They Are Still Installing Questionable Gear In Businesses

The former CEO of Google and networking Company Novell Eric Schmitt has described Huawei network equipment being installed openly by Optus and TPG into thousands of businesses and homes as a major security threat.

Schmitt who is well known to Australian businesses is currently chair of the US Department of Défense’s Defence Innovation Advisory Board said that “There’s no question that information from Huawei routers has ultimately ended up in hands that would appear to be the state”. He told the BBC.

He was referring to the Communist Government Of China whose links with businesses operating in Australia such as Huawei and China Telecom who are key partners of Optus and TPG are well known.

He told the BBC that “There’s no question that Huawei has engaged in some practices that are not acceptable in national security,” he added.

He said that Chinese Companies are very good at stealing innovation, designs, and technology.

He admitted that Huawei poses challenges to national security and has engaged in unacceptable acts.

Despite these comments and the banning of Huawei by the Australian Federal Government both TPG and Optus are openly working with Huawei a Chinese telecommunication Company without any warning being given to Companies that their broadband networks and IP telephony systems are being installed using questionable Chinese technology.

Optus is even using the Chinese Government owned China Telecom to deliver support for Huawei installed equipment.

Schmidt who also chairs the Pentagon’s Defence Innovation Board was peaking in the UK where the British Government is reviewing whether to continue letting Huawei help build its 5G mobile networks amid growing pressure to exclude the Chinese firm.

He said it was possible to think of the company as a means of “signals intelligence” – a reference to spy agencies like Australia’s ASIO, the UK’s GCHQ or NSA in the US.

Huawei has consistently denied accusations that it is an arm of the Chinese state or passes on customer data to the authorities.

The US has banned Huawei from using US chip technologies but is allowing American firms to work with the firm on 5G standards

Eric Schmidt spent a decade and a half as chief executive and then executive chairman of Google and its parent company Alphabet.

He acknowledges that over a long career in Silicon Valley, he had underestimated China’s ability to innovate.

“I have carried the prejudices about China in my years working with them,” he said.

“That they’re very good at copying things, that they’re very good at organising things, that they throw large numbers of people at it. But they’re not going to do anything new. They’re very, very good at stealing, if you will, our stuff. Those prejudices need to be thrown out.

Last year he chaired a US National Security Commission looking at artificial intelligence.

China’s advances in this field are a major concern.

“I would say they are a few years behind,” he says.

“Not five years, and not 10 years. And there’s evidence of China closing the gap in the next few years.

“So, the question is: what happens then? Well obviously, artificial intelligence has military and national security applications.”

China’s work on quantum computing, he adds, is on a par with that of the West, and could even be ahead.

India to block ZTE & Huawei

In other anti China sentiment, the Indian government is reportedly going to block Huawei and ZTE from involvement with their national carrier networks BSNL and MTNL, in the latest escalation of bad blood between the two countries.

Indian newspaper The Economic Times seems to have broken the news, having chatted to an anonymous source within the department of telecoms. BSNL and MTNL are state run telcos that still account for a decent chunk of the market. It seems to have been decided that any future kit procured by the two shouldn’t be from Huawei or ZTE and some existing deals may even be cancelled. There is no mention of ripping and replacing Chinese kit already in the networks.

This seems to be less about security, which is how the US frames its ban on Chinese stuff, than it is about direct punishment of China for its continuing belligerence over a bit of its border with India. Both countries have been amassing troops at the Galwan Valley border and recently had a massive scrap with improvised melee weapons, like something out of The Walking Dead, which resulted in 20 Indian deaths. China has kept quiet about its own losses, implying they were considerable.

Border aggro seems to translate immediately to nationwide antipathy in India these days, with an app designed to remove Chinese apps from Indian phones recently doing brisk business before it was removed by Google. The report indicates this is a tit-for-tat move in response to Indian companies being restricted in China, but it’s hard to believe the border tension didn’t play a part too. As another country becomes closed to them, Huawei and ZTE must be wishing their government would wind its neck in a bit.


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