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Huawei finds itself in the crosshairs of Western security agencies (spectator.us)
82 points by NN88 on Jan 11, 2019 | hide | past | web | favorite | 56 comments

I wasn't previously aware of this website, but after reading the article and noticing its rather brash style I decided to take a look at the front page. Several headlines stand out to me, including "Wrinkled, white, and wrong — this is the face of the Democratic party", "Black lives matter, until they’re ended by black people", and "Project Fact: how scared should we really be of a no-deal Brexit?", as well as a few statements seemingly designed to emphasize the racial and social undertones of various national debates. An admittedly cursory skim of these articles leaves the impression that the site's theme is low-key outrage generation and the propagation of divisive talking points that tend in a somewhat novel rightward direction.

Although I agree with the premise of the featured article, I have to wonder if this site's intent is actually aligned with the notion of a harmonic western social order incorporating political cooperation and tolerance for diversity of thought and belief, or if it is yet another low-key radicalization / division vector designed to appeal to those who are too intelligent, educated, naturally docile, or otherwise moderate to be swayed by the more extreme purveyors of discord such as Brietbart, etc. In other words, the site seems to be right on the edge of dog-whistling without actually going over that line, and my instinct is to not upvote articles sourced from it.

I was curious of the same thing.


It appears that it is a publication that leans heavily to the right, though apparently their reporting is factual. I would take that to mean that while anything that is explicitly stated as fact is likely true, the takeaways and editorials on the course of action is going be quite biased.

Skimming some of the other articles, they don't seem to be particular fans of Trump, with a couple of exceptions, so I'd guess they are probably of the Neoconservative Bush/Reagan bent rather than Trumpian.

> though apparently their reporting is factual.

One of the most effective forms of misleading reporting involves cherry-picking facts that support your narrative.

You can also conveniently ignore stories where it is obvious that facts may disrupt your desired meta-narrative.

Some organizations have even found ways of doing this whilst being revered for taking a balanced stance and presenting the full picture.

> One of the most effective forms of misleading reporting involves cherry-picking facts that support your narrative and not exploring stories where it is obvious that facts may disrupt your desired narrative.

Isn't that what about 100% of existing news media is doing? They key here is to read more than one source, but having a source that would alone represent more than one narrative by now is pretty close to hopeless.

A good extra bit of data to have. Your link to the Media Bias / Fact Check for the site states that it "is biased and uses loaded language especially in headlines" while not actually misreporting anything. It's an interesting and rather disturbing situation: how to define the boundary between acceptable and unacceptable levels of headline and conclusion sensationalizing w.r.t. providing an overall ranking of a source's "factualness"? There is presumably some level of sensationalizing that would undeniably transcend a hypothetical site's nominally-factual reporting to render its value as a socially-beneficial information source net negative. The hypothesis there would be that exposure to heavily-biased sensationalism over time might psychologically prime site readers to accept more and more extreme headlines as true, or that the sum total of the sensational headlines, while not directly deceiving the reader, might give him or her a false perception of reality along some specific axis of bias. However, I haven't studied the matter deeply and I have some reservations about this "gateway drug" theory. I wonder if any actual research has been done on this topic.

> I would take that to mean that while anything that is explicitly stated as fact is likely true, the takeaways and editorials on the course of action is going be quite biased.

Shit, you've almost nailed what journalism used to be.

I'm not sure that I feel that some bias is all that bad... while I'd rather see more from the likes of The Guardian, BBC News and Al Jazeera. There's clearly polarization from the more U.S. based sources towards one direction or another.

I tend to lean pragmatically towards classic liberal / libertarian. I get miffed less often from right leaning sources than left. Left news often just feels so far to the left that the center is now right.

Many Britishers consider The Guardian and BBC to be very biased, if not completely then atleast on certain topics.

Separating sponsored propoganda from legitimate news will only get harder as time goes on and media companies continue the buyout sprees that generally have the outcome of aligning narratives and interests.

Indeed. An interesting experiment would be to go on https://www.theguardian.com/uk and search for the word 'vest' or 'gilet'. Then go on Twitter and independently decide how newsworthy/baghdad-like Paris is.

I can understand that, and I guess it's relative to the US, is where I'm coming from. Reporting on US issues is at least generally more balanced than what I see from CNN or Fox domestically.

Remember that bias is just as much about how they filter what facts to report as it is about how they distort the facts they do report.

Just because what they report is factual, doesn't mean they're unbiased. A newspaper that reports every crime by black people while only reporting serious crimes by white people might be factual, but it displays clear bias. A newspaper that reports every truth told by President Trump (but conveniently neglects the lies, rants and tantrums) might be factual but it is clearly biased.

Meanwhile in Australia, our government has recently passed a law [1] that very openly and explicitly makes companies legally obligated to add backdoors for the government to spy on whoever it likes, and imposes serious legal penalties on anyone who discloses these activities to their customers or the general public.

I don't know how much of the Huawei article is propaganda and how much of it describes a genuine threat. But one thing is for certain, which is that governments in the west are not much better. This was clear five years ago from the Snowden revelations; our governments are just being a little more open about it now and forcing private industry into their surveillance regimes.

[1] https://www.theverge.com/2018/12/7/18130806/australia-access...

This kind of argument always comes up in these threads, so I'm just going to cut to the chase with the response:

"Alike in desire to surveil" is not "alike in values and behavior."

Looking for the next poster to jump in and say something about "But are the values really that different?" or "But which are really the better values?"

Values mean nothing when the behaviour is the same.

Calling it a front is somewhat uncalled for, given that it's actually one of the largest tech companies on the planet.

Are they connected to the Chinese government and used to exercise geopolitical power? Sure but everyone could have told you that already, because that's how China openly operates. There is basically no distinction between government and multinationals.

As far as the rest of the world cooperates with China's businesses I think everyone sees that facet as a trade-off for access to the largest market in the world.

So I don't agree with the take at the end of the article that finding a Huawei spy in Poland would be surprising or catastrophic for China. Grave cuts to commercial ties to China would probably send the economy spiralling, so nobody's going to do it, it's just going to be a tug-of-war for a long time to come.

Yeh but I don't think western countries have really been paying attention. It's obvious based on sentiment they thought wealth would change that.

China has been a big focus for the western countries' ruling classes for atleast 200 years.

I agree that the populace hasn't been paying attention though.

there's been no plan for 200 years to deal with china. that's like saying western countries have been paying attention to the catholic church for 1000+ years. There's no government plan towards china, everything has changed every 25 or 50 years.

Many western governments hoped they magically democratize as they became wealthier, instead they went the other way.

It's a front because it claims that it isn't at the will of the PRC.

Pick your poison. As Snowden revealed, Cisco was/is regularly backdoored by US intelligence as well.

I'll take the poison that has freedom of speech/religion/press please.

True, but unless USA ordered Cisco to do that, it's a bit different. NSA will use whatever it can to spy on others, it's obvious

I just with that the NSA had policies to disclose backdoors to appropriate business entities 30 days after discovery/purchase. They could still use 0-days, but at least the window would be reduced so the stockpile isn't unleashed on the world at large being a much bigger risk to security.

30 days is useless. Intelligence operations take years to unfold. Banning NSA from using zero-days doesn't mean everybody else is banned from using zero-days, including PRC.

I didn't say they couldn't use them.. only that they should have to disclose them to the company(ies) responsible.

If they get a zero-day for windows, they can use it all they want... but they should have to disclose it to MS after 30-60 days of knowledge. The NSA is as responsible for technology security in the US as much as spying operations. They need to find a balance to do both.

If they responsibly disclose and that happens before other nation states discover and take advantage of zero-days it makes it much better for everyone.

...and every American tech company is a US intelligence front.

Who do you think the bigger spy is though, USA v China? Let's be honest.

USA by far.

if you leave all the colloquialisms, the article is based on two facts:

* Last February, the heads of the ‘big three’ US intelligence agencies warned Americans against buying Huawei phones, which they deemed a security risk.

* Poland ABW arrested the two on the spionage charges, huawei office is being searched

i'm a bit disappointed, because there is nothing new in the article. i was expecting something intel about huawei devices being rigged with backdoors, calling home or having kill switches.

*edit: grammar

We need a smoking gun and less of the "Supermicro phantom chip" caliber reporting.

Maybe? I accepted this nearly 10 years ago.

Slight tangent: my perception as a tech person but not a networking professional is that TP-Link became big in consumer network gear very suddenly. It made me wonder at the time if they got a leg up from the Chinese government, and now with these stories about Huawei I wonder if they're similarly entangled.

How much of a white hat effort is there to check what servers these products connect to? Are there (volunteer?/open source?) efforts to watch for suspect behavior or do targeted disassembly of the firmware?

I‘ll happily let China spy on me if it means I‘m not vulnerable to „five eyes“, the German BND and all the other illegal spying operations with larger impact on my daily life.

Interesting. Why do you see European spying operations as more impactful to your daily life than Chinese?

China doesn't go around the world arresting people who haven't even visited their country... in Assange's case on the other hand the US...

In his lifetime, Assange has hacked the Pentagon, US Navy telcom systems, other DoD infrastructure, Lockheed Martin, Panasonic, and others through a hacking group he founded[0]. That's not even including Wikileaks and his suspected ties to the Russian government.

Combine that with the fact that most countries carry extradition treaties, it's not all that surprising that the US wants him. He's committed a litany of crimes in his lifetime against foreign countries, and often bragged about it. Why is it crazy to you that a foreign country wants to detain someone that has hacked said country's critical military infrastructure and participated in information laundering that potentially impacted a US presidential election?

[0]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julian_Assange

He was initially pursued for exposing war crimes in Iraq involving the US army and Reuter's journalists. Everything else was seemingly tacked on after the fact.

Yeh but they have in Vietnam and other countries they sphere of influence is just small.

Framing it as "influence" is wrong imo. History points to the Chinese having less interest in this power than western countries.

My understanding is that China has aided Vietnam in arresting criminals the Vietnamese government is after. Do you have an example of what you stated?

> Why do you see European spying operations as more impactful to your daily life than Chinese?

Because I have no interest in Chinese politics, don't support any dissidents there and it's unlikely that they'll be interested in what I think, vote or support financially.

Not so with the European/US spying operations, when you e.g. support Assange, are opposed to US meddling in the ME, agree with right-wing positions in Europe, are opposed to sanctions against Russia etc. ...

I hope your organs are suitable for the Chinese elite.

I'll choose the US, which for all its faults has a much better human rights record than China. Political opponents aren't jailed, there are no reeducation camps for minority groups (like Muslims.) Business isn't done through constant bribing of officials (which is very popular in China.) Etc, etc. Were it not for trade empowering the Chinese political class, China would be a hermit state like North Korea.

Nationalistic flamewar is not welcome on HN, so please don't take HN threads further into it.

We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18886501 and marked it off-topic.


Would you please stop posting unsubstantive comments to Hacker News? We ban accounts that do this.


Thanks for reminding me Dang. I'll stay within the guidelines.

The human rights records is a p/r gambit which is mostly bullshit. The US violates human rights of all sorts of people all over the world all of the time. They just treat their own citizens with a certain amount of courtesy.

> there are no reeducation camps for minority groups (like Muslims.)

No there are just bombings and complete destruction of various Muslim countries that don't go with the economic agenda of the US.

Didn't the US just finish murdering about 2+ million Arabs over the last decade or so, I bet the dead Iraqis, Syrians, Yemenis would rather be in "history lesson camps" in China.

Who's not accepting it? If a country can use something to spy on others it will. No doubt in my mind that China controls them 100%, one way or another, so...

You can't trust American companies to not spy on you. You can't trust Chinese companies not to spy on you. They are both arms of the government and conduct continuous espionage. Maybe we should get Samsung in this game as a non-superpower third party, though they probably already in the NSA's pocket as you hear no complaints about them from the US.

It's like who would you rather your secrets be stolen by? Americans or the Chinese?

I'd rather neither... however, I've not been arrested for reading/spreading articles about the Snowden documents or for making disparaging comments against the U.S. (I'm a resident and citizen).

The difference being if you live in China and do these things you may never be seen again.

I'm also against the whisle-blower persecutions that started under GWB and escalated under Obama.

I live in neither country. It's obvious that it's better to be a US citizen rather than a Chinese citizen. However, China has little ability to affect lives of citizens of other countries... whereas the US has much more power to do so potentially based on evidence gathered through surveillance they can for instance extradite people to the US to face charges for crimes whereas China is incapable of doing such a thing to non-Chinese citizens. This is no a hypothetical thing, it has happened more than once.

BoingBoing has the skinny on author John Schindler[1]

> John Schindler was a prof at the College; he slammed Snowden as a traitor and compared Greenwald to Hitler, and was generally dismissive about concerns about network surveillance; he also sent pictures of his dick to a woman who wasn't his wife. He also co-wrote the report that stated that Sadam Hussein had WMDs, and helped send America to war. That was a lot worse than dick pics.

I mean, while I have no issue with Schindler's evident animus for the current US President, and while the Polish case may (or may not) establish Schindler's intended point, his credibility is IMO way insufficient to be trusted on stories like this. He's really best seen as part of a fringe movement of pro-intelligence online cheerleaders and would-be vigilantes, whose most visible participant is the infamous Louise Mensch[2]

1: https://boingboing.net/2014/08/12/former-nsa-spook-resigns-f...

2: https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2017/06/louise-mensch-an...

You just posted a lot of ad hominems that have no bearing on whether the author's statements in this article are true.

>> He also co-wrote the report that stated that Sadam Hussein had WMDs, and helped send America to war.

It's not an ad-hominem to suggest that an author's previous record on accuracy can be a guide to his present credibility.

China's spying, IP theft, and other bad behavior is nothing new or secret. Someone got arrested in Poland, well that's what happens when you get caught. Why so much China whiteknighting here and in the other story?

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