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Huawei isn't trustworthy 5G partner, German spy agency says (bloomberg.com)
93 points by DyslexicAtheist 6 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 64 comments





I think there is one reason why western governments are opposed to Huawei systems in their communications networks. Western governments have historically had more trust in the US being a partner they can rely on, which is not the case (yet) for the Chinese.

All governments spy on each other, and they do whatever is necessary for their spying needs, the US, European nations as well as the Chinese. And I bet this includes exploiting Huawei/Cisco/Nokia/Motorolla hardware. Only difference is in this case for Germany: The US is more trusted than the Chinese. Thus the US/Europe get more leeway in these hardware purchases.


Western governments have historically been allied with and have had intelligence sharing and cooperation arrangements with the U.S.

There is a general alignment of Western intelligence agencies as a cooperative group against the antagonism of China (and Russia, NK, etc)

It isn't just "everybody spies" - it's "we are actively engaged in an adversarial relationship together against this other group"


In addition, there is a "special" arrangement between 5 western allies called the "five eyes"[1]. Between the five partners, they cover internet backbone infra for much of the world.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Five_Eyes


Germany is not part of the Five Eyes alliance.

Nevertheless Germany is in CFBLNet, NATO, the 14 and in the Berne club...

They never claimed Germany was. The wiki link in GP doesn't list Germany as being a part of the five eyes.

> They never claimed Germany was.

The article is about Germany.


and much of the EU internet traffic, including to/from germany, goes through the UK. I'm not sure why I'm being downvoted for pointing out a relevant fact on US and western allies who share intel and basically have tapped most all of the fiber in the world via legal or illegal methods (per the snowden docs).

> and much of the EU internet traffic, including to/from germany, goes through the UK.

Indeed - and many German citizens who are interested in such topics find this concerning exactly because of Five Eyes.

My comment that Germany is not part of Five Eyes

> https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19399560

refers to its grandparent

> https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19398858

which I requote here:

"Western governments have historically been allied with and have had intelligence sharing and cooperation arrangements with the U.S.

There is a general alignment of Western intelligence agencies as a cooperative group against the antagonism of China (and Russia, NK, etc)

It isn't just "everybody spies" - it's "we are actively engaged in an adversarial relationship together against this other group"".


bingo. The BND and NSA work very closely together even if they aren't in FVEY. This is quite well known, but it makes a lot of sense in the face of Russian/NK/Chinese aggressions. As much as our president wants you to not believe, we are stronger together.

Germany does not live in a vacuum.

"trusted" is a very optimistic way of putting it. but better the devil you know (e.g. Cisco/NSA) than the devil you don't.

That's very true. But also today all telco company's are really private company's and so the government can't tell them so easy buy this because we like to spy our own people.

At least in the US, I think it's easier than you think for the government to get what they want from the telcos. AT&T and their retroactive immunity set a pretty strong example that if you play nice with the government bad things won't happen to you.

More or less USA and Germany both want democracy, albeit with their local flavor. Free trade, human rights etc. If US spies (and gets its way), Germany might get their execs jailed for corruption or might lose a bid for, say, airplane engines. If China / Russia spy and get their way...we know what would happen.

What happened after it was known that the NSA had tapped Merkels phone? Nada.

German NSA people privately said, "wow, smart sons of b*tches those NSA guys. Wish we could do that to Obama"

German spy agencies were aiding and abetting the NSA in the surveillance of the German population and looked the other way when it came to politicians and industry. That a NSA lapdog is critical of Huwai is no surprise.

> What happened after it was known that the NSA had tapped Merkels phone? Nada.

For understanding Germany, you always have to keep in mind that there is a deep ditch between the "political interests" of the government and the "political interests" of many citizens (that is also the reason why you will harly hear any German citizens speaking of "unsere Regierung" (our government), but of "die Regierung" (the government)).

The government is rather attached to the USA (that is why of course nothing happened after the NSA tapped Merkel's phone), while many citizens are deeply sceptical of it, be it for

- industrial espionage that was done on Enercon by the USA (see https://www.windpowermonthly.com/article/960011/trans-atlant...)

- very different beliefs on data privacy

- the Snowden leaks

- Donald Trump

- ...


While I agree that Huawei shouldn't be trusted, I find it hypocritical that western governments don't mind their own companies working with Huawei to install western build surveillance hardware and software in Huawei managed networks.

Huawei is an interesting case. It normally isn't a problem to operate out of a country like China, but telecommunications infrastructure is sensitive. We are essentially seeing a rare case of differences in political systems having real-world effects on the export of goods. If China had the same relationship to the West as today, but stronger legal protections, this wouldn't be an issue at all, I suspect.

also if in the future we actually make cellular standards where encryption isn't demarcated at the tower and instead setup e2e between consumer devices, some risks are mitigated

it's really a shame that with both 4g and 5g standards bodies did not already work on this.


> instead setup e2e between consumer devices, some risks are mitigated

Only some, though. The metadata will still be there to be collected, which I understand is more valuable than you'd assume on first glance.



Why they are so obssesed with 5g?! One traveling on the Berlin S-Bahn ring receives EDGE mobile connection. Let me guess - the only trustworthy and reliable partner is T-Mobile?

It's a new frequency space that can be auctioned off, so they can try to set new rules requiring expansion of coverage and local roaming. So in theory the exact opposite of "the only trustworthy and reliable partner is T-Mobile." Of course none of the triopoly like that proposal, so it's not clear yet whether those new rules will actually be implemented or not.

If it weren't for these political considerations, expanding 3G coverage instead would be cheaper and likely good enough for most applications. Especially the self driving car stuff where 5G is always touted as necessary: if it can't work without constant network connection, it's not safe enough to be deployed on the streets.


> So in theory the exact opposite of "the only trustworthy and reliable partner is T-Mobile."

My last sentence was was /s, obviously.

> Especially the self driving car stuff where 5G is always touted as necessary:

Germany must the only country where the development of 5G is not motivated by providing better connectivity to the citizens, but by.... the interests of automotive industry. The oligopoly is strong.


It's easy to point at Huawei and say 'they are not trustworthy'. The question is, what alternatives are out there and can they deliver?

Nokia and Ericsson are the other big 5G vendors. I don't know of any problems in their ability to deliver.

Besides both are old companies with solid reputations in two stable democracies.

Ericsson, has big parts of their 5G R&D in Germany I'm sure they have their fair share of government ties.

Tools in this context sounds a lot like:

- I'll have my favored vendor draft the RFB

- Have my favored vendor write the only RFP that matches the RFB

- pretend there is competition.

This is probably the US telling Germany what to do. They're the junior partner anyway. Giving China access to large parts of their telco infrastructure isn't something either country wants to do. I can understand why, but just saying that probably won't fly with the WTO



This is the direction some major Canadian telecoms have been going.

I’m not sure if they’ve all changed their plans, but at least one or two of them have already made this choice and have used them in the past. Never heard of any problems in delivering.


In 4G and 5G networks there are only 4 big network infrastructure companies left: Huawei, Ericsson, Nokia and ZTE. Two of them are Chinese and two are from EU. Samsung is fifth but it has only 3% of the market.

"it would be hard to work with a company that cooperates with its national secret service. "

Doesn't every telecom company cooperate with its home government? I see a lot of doubt cast towards Huawei's behavior, but how about some evidence?


> An outright ban on Huawei is seen as legally impossible, but German officials are looking at tools that would have the same effect.

How can 'tools' with the effect of a ban be legal, when a ban isn't?


The usual approach would be to define requirements in a way that are unsuitable for the specific vendor you want to get rid of.

This is more common the other way around, where a government wants a specific company to do a job, but is required to issue a public call for bids. In that case the requirements are just written exactly for that specific company.


Write the requirements such that the company has no chance to comply with them.

Friendly advice to German telecom companies's CEOs can be an effective 'tool'...

But must guess is that Germany will be very careful and still let Huawei have a footprint in the country because Germany is a heavy investor in China for decades, and Huawei actually moved their EU HQ from the UK to Germany. They will want to stay on good enough terms with China.


What about e2e encryption and then you don't have to care about the infrastructure?

This is a witch hunt that will undermine confidence in the global economic system. Everything one can accuse Huawei of can be applied against any tech company - and for some with hard evidence and most here know.

This can easily backfire with tech companies being banned and excluded from markets on frivolous grounds without due process in the same way.

It cannot just be some can undermine competition and limit access to markets with scaremongering and wild allegations. If free markets and competition are mere political constructs to benefit a few then the whole system is effectively over.


[flagged]


Don't understand the downvotes, this is what this is all about. It's not about Huawei being more or less trustworthy than the others, it's just about the US (three-letter agencies) "not liking" Huawei.

That comment is presumably a reference to something, but it's completely meaningless to someone (like me) who doesn't know that reference. They could have made the same point in a way that more people could understand.

My comment was crystal clear. It is as plain a reference to American influence as can be, nothing more.

It is literally meaningless to me. I have no idea what it is trying to convey.

It's innuendo implying that the Germans are nothing but American running dogs.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Running_dog


This is HN. Like reddit.

Certain opinions or facts are downvoted without any contradicting facts. Now matter how reasonable the opinion or true the fact is. Especially regarding politics and nutrition. If your comment matches a certain pattern, you get downvoted or upvoted by certain people who never give any facts but who might insult you instead.

PS https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=auto&tl=en&u...


> Certain opinions or facts are downvoted without any contradicting facts. Now matter how reasonable the opinion or true the fact is.

Not really in this case. Take the comment in question: there's no fact or even much opinion there. It's mostly innuendo. Good moderators will downvote trollish comments, or flamebait, or comments that lead in other unproductive or uninteresting directions, regardless of the "opinions or facts" it contains.


What are the facts against Huawei ? Do you have any ?

Here are some facts against the USA and European politicians and secret services and their collusion:

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/jul/08/nsa-tapped-g...

Quote: The spying row has also been stirred by allegations that Merkel’s staff gave the German BND foreign intelligence agency a green light to help the NSA spy on European firms and officials.

https://www.europeansources.info/record/german-intelligence-...

Title: German intelligence employee arrested on suspicion of spying for US on Bundestag NSA committee

https://theintercept.com/2018/02/17/gchq-belgacom-investigat...

Quote: The Belgacom breach sparked outrage in Europe’s political institutions and made global headlines. But Belgium’s effort to identify the spies responsible and hold them accountable faced roadblocks at almost every turn. Europol, the European Union’s law enforcement agency, refused to assist. Prosecutors overseeing the case feared triggering a major diplomatic dispute and were reluctant to pursue it aggressively. Meanwhile, British spies tried to destroy the evidence. “We wanted to show that as a small country, we would not be bullied,” said a source close to the investigation. “But we were fighting against two big cyberarmies from the U.K. and the U.S. We knew we could never win this.”

https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=auto&tl=en&u...

Quote: The consultant Florian Kling, formerly a cyber officer and public relations expert for the German Armed Forces, told Stoltenberg on Twitter : "Explain why the civil network is important to NATO, how NATO / US would communicate through these channels "It's not a military or landline core, and should not I trust our crypto capabilities?" Other military officials also see this as follows: "Our intelligence services work together excellently - classified information is guaranteed not to be transported via a 4G or 5G network, but rather in completely different ways," said Patrick Sensburg on Deutschlandradio . The CDU deputy and lieutenant colonel of the reserve sits in the intelligence committee Parlamentarisches Kontrollgremium (PKGr). "This is about the exercise of economic power," emphasized Professor Sensburg.


>>> Certain opinions or facts are downvoted without any contradicting facts. Now matter how reasonable the opinion or true the fact is.

>> Not really in this case. Take the comment in question: there's no fact or even much opinion there. It's mostly innuendo.

> What are the facts against Huawei ? Do you have any ?

What about Huawei? I was talking about ElBarto's comment, as is everyone in this entire thread. He was just scolded by a mod about his conduct, so I don't think my take was too far off.


I do not remember anymore what ElBarto wrote and it is censored now.

But it was related to the boycott of Huawei. It was reasonable like all other good critical comments that were downvoted to a grey font color at that time. I replied to the poster who wondered why ElBarto's post was downvoted because there was nothing wrong with it when I read it.

Besides, my comment was downvoted too without any valid criticism and thus it was validated.


> I do not remember anymore what ElBarto wrote and it is censored now.

> I replied to the poster who wondered why ElBarto's post was downvoted because there was nothing wrong with it when I read it.

There was something wrong with it, but you didn't understand it. That's fine, but understand that things you can't perceive still exist. Lots of people found fault with it, including a mod. Don't you think that could mean something actually was wrong with it?

However, if you've already forgotten it, maybe we should drop it?

> But it was related to the boycott of Huawei.

Barely and unproductively, as I outlined above.

> Besides, my comment was downvoted too without any valid criticism and thus it was validated.

It's common practice here to downvote comments that complain about downvotes, because they don't actually add to the discussion. Complaining about voting is frowned upon.


> It's common practice here to downvote comments that complain about downvotes, because they don't actually add to the discussion. Complaining about voting is frowned upon.

I answered a question.

Downvoting without giving a reason is lazy selfish cowardly trolling without contributing anything useful.

A downvote is even worse than an insult because:

- an insult shows the mindset and the stupidity of the insulting person.

- as intended, a downvote leads to deranking of the comment and thus "eradication" for many other readers who do not care to read downvoted comments or the last comments of many.


You're wasting your time. You've forgotten the content of the comment that spurred this thread, and I'm not interested in getting into some weird discussion about your views on downvoting in general.

You are proving his point by being so dishonest and insulting me, and downvoting everything.

And you guys are the ones taking things in unproductive directions by refusing to address or discuss the point of my initial comment (and you even go as far as pretending not to understand the point or to misrepresent it), which is American influence over its allies.


I wasn't pretending. You overestimate your communication skills. Have a look at your original comment and how much it is assuming that isn't being communicated to its audience.

What is this conversation supposed to be? Is it a play on lines from a movie or something? Who is it meant to be between? Who does the first speaker represent? What about the second? What is the context of the conversation? Why does that conversation relfect something true about the real-world situation? Is the conversation meant to be some kind of metaphor?

Because you know the point you're trying to make, the meaning of your comment is clear to you. But to someone who doesn't start out knowing what that point is meant to be, they don't have anything to go on.


You can't grasp the meaning of a metaphor, put it in context with the headline and a fictional dialog and think that his communication skills are bad?

Maybe yours are.

German spy agencies are known to work with/for US intelligence without any hesitations. There was little or rather no consequences at all following the disclosures made by Snowden, although even chancellor Merkels smartphone was wiretapped.

This history (see, it's more about knowing something about politics and history) has lead to the impression that Germany will mostly follow American pressure blindly.

Coupled with the total lack of solid reasons not to use Huawei, this thing just looks like a "don't buy from the Chinese"-request from the US and Cisco.

With such obscure things like former BND chief Schindler saying that Huawei tech is "one and a half to two years more advanced than ours" [0] and that he fears there would be dependence on Chinese tech (and not on US tech anymore). This is what it's all about. It's not about security, it's about money. As always.

[0] https://www.heise.de/newsticker/meldung/5G-Frueher-BND-Chef-...


It's telling that you think it was obviously a metaphor. It was obviously a fictional dialogue, but so many things relating to that dialogue (as mentioned in my previous comment) were unclear.

Have you heard of "the curse of knowledge"?

Assuming all the details in your explanation are correct, if someone already knows those details what are they going to get from your comment? And if they don't know those details, how are they supposed to understand your comment?

ElBarto 6 days ago [flagged]

Stop digging, please. It's unclear only to you.

It's obvious you can't address the substance of my comment when you can only reply with that.

Only unclear to me? That's obviously untrue, because I can see your earlier replies to me are grayed out from downvotes by others (note especially the "My comment was crystal clear" one), and I know that my comments have been upvoted by several people who clearly think the same about your comment as I do.

ElBarto 6 days ago [flagged]

Talking about overestimating something...

Now please leave me alone and find someone else to troll.


If you continue to break the site guidelines like this we are going to have to ban you again.

Plenty of other users are able to express views similar to yours without crossing into incivility or posting flamebait. Please be like them.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html

ElBarto 4 days ago [flagged]

Wow. Great thanks.

I'll try not to express individual thoughts in the future to fit into the collective.


Spot on, which is sad.



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