back to article We can do this the easy way or the Huawei, US tells Germany with threat to snip intel over 5G fears

Uncle Sam has reportedly threatened Germany with a reduction in intelligence sharing if it allows Huawei equipment to be installed on its 5G networks. This comes after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last month warned that America would cut off its allies from hush-hush secrets if they dared deploy Huawei gear in core …

  1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Wot?

    Guys, I was joking when I described this as a possibility.

    It seems America's arrogance is only exceeded by its.... (run out of expletives)

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Wot?

      And this from a country whose president has forced Security clearance for people who are a liability.

  2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    What's German for "Put up or shut up."?

    1. John G Imrie Silver badge

      What's German for "Put up or shut up."?

      Do an SCO?

    2. big_D Silver badge

      So, Germany can choose, kit from the USA that has been tampered with by the NSA or kit from China that "may" have been tampered with, but for which there is no evidence...

      After the US eavesdropping attempts on Merkel's phone, I would be very wary about installing any more kit out of the USA.

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        kit from the USA that has been tampered with by the NSA

        Qualcomm can only supply parts of the kit, the networks will have to built by Ericsson, Nokia-Siemens-Alcatel (IIRC), Huawei or Samsung.

        All suppliers will have to be prepared to tamper with stuff if required to by the spooks: Siemens was happy selling SMS filtering gear to Iran. Mind you, given the amount of trade in instruments of death with unpalatable regimes (House of Saud at the top of the list), does this really surprise anyone.

        Maybe Tim Apple will be building the US 5G networks, complete with rounded corners, notches and stylish detention centres for anyone complaining about signal strength.

        1. big_D Silver badge

          I was thinking more of the HP networking gear that the NSA intercepted a few years back and Cisco spending the last 18 months closing one backdoor after another in its kit.

          But, yes, it is a question of which is the lesser evil... The proven evil or the theoretical evil.

          1. Chinashaw

            In which case you run with the USA and avoid China like the plague. China, home of significant data theft, IP theft, No real rule of law, Protectionism far exceeding the USA's, arbitrary jailing with little to no access to legal support. Not to mention somewhat excessive persecution of their population, the invasion and control of Tibet and the oppression of the people there. I could go on.

            There is no real comparison, even with the USA being run by the Orange one and his gang of friends. He will be gone soon or at least in a set period, China's beloved ruler has changed the law giving him almost unlimited power and no end to his rule. I know the Orange one wants this but it won't happen, the checks and balances are too strong.

            So if you want proof of bad behaviour then you really don't have to look far for it and more documented evidence than even the most one eyed can shake a stick at.

            1. teknopaul Bronze badge

              This is Huawei vs Cisco not capitalism vs communism. If it were the US would shut up and let the market decide. Ho ho.

            2. JohnFen Silver badge

              All valid criticisms of China, but none of them have anything to do with the US' assertions regarding the reason they want everyone to stop using Huawei gear.

              The US' stance is that Chinese companies have to do what China tells them to do and, although there's no evidence that Huawei's gear is currently being used to engage in espionage or sabotage, it could start being used for that should China decide to in the future. The problem is that the same exact risk applies to US tech as well. In this narrow sense, there is a legitimate moral equivalency that can be drawn.

            3. big_D Silver badge

              It doesn't matter if Trump goes soon or not. This is the NSA, they were there before Trump and they will be there after he has gone. They act pretty much beyond the law - having secret courts (FISA) and those who are contacted can't tell anyone, their employer, their lawyer, nobody, they just have to follow the content of the FISA letter.

            4. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              China, home of significant data theft, IP theft

              Ah, but if you knew your history you'd know that the US started their industry by simply ignoring any IP rights as well, in some cases even in the country itself.

              This is why the US stance on IP rights has no moral basis, but so little has coming from there these days as are the claims of it being a democracy.

            5. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              So if you want proof of bad behaviour then you really don't have to look far for it and more documented evidence than even the most one eyed can shake a stick at.

              Yet, there is a remarkable absence of

              (a) documented evidence of any of the US allegations and

              (b) efforts of US providers such as Cisco to allow a similar level of public scrutiny that Huawei presently allows.

              So, from a factual basis I am still more inclined to trust Huawei than the US, also because I suspect the US has finally worked out that China is likely to take over as leading superpower, a process accelerated by Trump's pivot into coal to appraise his base. That didn't exactly work because -as always- real life economics finally made themselves known, a nuisance Trump had to cope with many times in his life (typically signalled by yet another bankruptcy) but it put the US years back in dealing with global warming and developing associated technology.

              But hey, what do I know. I just see the patterns.

            6. Jimmy2Cows
              Trollface

              @Chinashaw: arbitrary jailing with little to no access to legal support

              You're talking about China, right...?

              Such things never happen in the US.

              /sarc

          2. and I

            er, which one is that?

            The one that spies on their population, er both,

            or the one that spies on others, er both,

            or the one that supresses ethnic populations internally or the one that locks up migrants separates their kids and torturous folk abroad?

            Or maybe demand EU kit only!

            1. DavCrav Silver badge

              Re: er, which one is that?

              "or the one that supresses [sic] ethnic populations internally"

              Really? You are comparing US race relations to a one-million-strong concentration camp?

              1. warmndry

                Re: er, which one is that?

                That might be a valid comparison, except in USA they are called ghettos.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: er, which one is that?

                  except in USA they are called ghettos.

                  Or immigration detention camps. What do they call the facilities where they keep the children they separated from their parents without collecting any data that would allow them to be reunited later?

                  I forgot, I'm sure there's a voter-friendly name for it like "alien kids retention facility" or something, or "lost and not found".

                  1. Alien8n Silver badge

                    Re: er, which one is that?

                    "I forgot, I'm sure there's a voter-friendly name for it like "alien kids retention facility" or something"

                    I can confirm that none of my kids are being retained by the USA.

                2. DavCrav Silver badge

                  Re: er, which one is that?

                  You people are fucking nuts. The US isn't a fantastic place to live if you are poor, but they are not currently engaged in cultural genocide. To compare human rights abuses by the US and China is insane.

                  Think about it and decide if you really, really, believe China as the world's 'global policeman' would be as relatively benign as the last two decades. Arrest one of their citizens for fraud? Expect your innocent citizens to be kidnapped, tortured and executed in response. And that's now, not even when they are even more powerful.

                  1. JohnFen Silver badge

                    Re: er, which one is that?

                    "Think about it and decide if you really, really, believe China as the world's 'global policeman' would be as relatively benign as the last two decades"

                    I don't see where anyone here asserted anything like that.

                  2. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: er, which one is that?

                    You may want to look up what Civil Asset Forfeiture is and then see how that has been used over the years. As for kidnapping people, if you happened to have the wrong skin colour and your name even resembled that of someone else, you would have been "rendered" (that's the US definition of illegally kidnapping someone in another country where they have f*ck all jurisdiction), end up wearing a nice orange suit in a warm country and be subjected to torture without access to any due process or even a lawyer. That's fun if you're innocent. On the plus side, Michael Moore remarked that they had at least good health care.

                    That would all be "legal" because they hired a space outside the US so it would not break any US laws. Hypocrites.

                    As for not engaging in cultural genocide, there's this amazing difference in people killed by police when they are white and when they are not, and that rarely results in conviction, even if it was 100% unjustified. Also, what do you think is going to happen when you separate little kids from their parents? That's maybe not mass genocide, it's more a relaxed kind of genocide.

                    The US was once a good country, but the decline that was started with Bush Jr hasn't really been halted. Trump is more the culmination of it, and I must say it is amazing that Trump managed to make Bush look good - I would not have deemed that possible.

                    Vlad must be going to work singing every day, enjoying his days at the Kremlin. He really scored big with Trump, so big..

      2. seven of five

        evidence

        "or kit from China that "may" have been tampered with, but for which there is no evidence..."

        Oh, there is evidence, but it is sooo secret the germans can not be trusted to see it until they trust the US they do not have to see it. In which case they do not need to see it as they trust the US they do not need to see it.

        see?

        :)

        edit: aka "If you can not convince them, confuse them!"

    3. Shadow Systems Silver badge

      "What's German for PUOSU?"

      Exactly. Either my government (spits in disgust) proves its stance on this or it shuts the fuck up about it. You don't *demand* folks do something based on your protectionist fears, you either provide hard, uncontrovertable proof or you Shut. The. Fuck. Up.

      Dear Germany, please give my government TheFinger with both hands, both feet, a troop of monkies, & every intelligent member of your citizenry that can see through this bullshit. When even the blind guy can see the holes in their logic you *know* the argument isn't worth the breath they wasted in uttering it.

      1. big_D Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: "What's German for PUOSU?"

        Unfortunately giving them the finger (or "das Stinkefinger zeigen") is against the law in Germany (an insult according to § 185 StGB) and the German Government could end up in court, if the US pushed charges. :-S

        Those crazy Germans, they have laws for everything! :-D

  3. Colemanisor

    Auflegen oder den Mund halten

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Isn't that basically the same thing?

    2. StargateSg7 Bronze badge

      Using an English phonetic spelling for this German term, I say to the USA ... how about ...

      Lek Mich Am Aashe!

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The true beginnings of an authoritarian arrogant regimes rise to power. They'll be exporting more of that "freedom" soon and no one will be safe.

    1. Martijn Otto

      You have the freedom

      The freedom to comply, that is.

      1. Rameses Niblick the Third Kerplunk Kerplunk Whoops Where's My Thribble? Silver badge

        Re: You have the freedom

        I think Bill Hicks said it best during his Revelations tour:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HRRkMOlYBhQ

        I often wonder what Bill would think of the political situation today both in the US and in Europe.

        Sadly missed.

  5. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Trumpian Diploonacy

    Grenell has been shooting his mouth off like this since he was appointed. Seems like the new kid in the UK is of a similar mould. While this works for Trump and makes great TV, it makes the copycats look like morons and it's terrible diplomacy. First, of all it pisses off everyone, and secondly, it makes hands any kind of court case by Huawei a slam-dunk.

    Existing EU anti-competition rules are the way to go after Huawei – it's unlikely any one country will allow only one company to build the network – even if they are cheaper and better, which is what the networks are basically saying.

    The traditional way to throw sand in the gears is continually change the rules on the equipment and reduce the number of clerks processing equipment approvals. Just like the Chinese do.

    1. Alister Silver badge

      Re: Trumpian Diploonacy

      You don't seem to have considered the possibility that for most Europeans (and I include British people in that for the moment) the risk that there is a "possibility" that China can snoop on their network traffic, is considered to be far less worrying than the risk that the USA can snoop on their network traffic.

      European countries don't necessarily want to "go after" Huawei, especially not until there is some actual evidence of them doing something - you know, like the evidence we have that Cisco snoop on networks for the USA.

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: Trumpian Diploonacy

        European countries don't necessarily want to "go after" Huawei

        Recent discussions around the proposed merger of Siemens and Alcatel's train divisions suggest otherwise. Mobile networks and GSM were extremely successful for European companies, which meant employment and tax revenues.

        Personally, I don't think Europe needs to worry more about Huawei's kit than it does about anything else. Unfair subsidies and unequal access to the Chinese market are a bigger problem.

      2. Mario Becroft
        Meh

        Re: Trumpian Diploonacy

        Let's be real. We already know the CIA probably has implants to intercept internet traffic anywhere in the world. Even among friends, espionage is pretty much expected as part of the game.

        China is different. They have never been frenemies with European powers, and they are gearing up to fight if they have to. Also have an impressive track-record of stealing corporate and government organisations via network intrusion. Just as (I imagine) very little Cisco kit does out of the door withour implants, you can guarantee China is doing the same. Difference is, we (the west, the free world, whatever you want to call it) have a pact going on where the data is used responsibly by governments that we the people elect.

        This is information warfare. Don't think the companies in the Chinese government's pocket are giving away their kit at lower prices for no reason.

        Which would you prefer - to live under a (very arguably) benevolent dictotator's thumb that has trouble with civil liberties that would put the USA efforts to shame, or...?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Trumpian Diploonacy

          Difference is, we (the west, the free world, whatever you want to call it) have a pact going on where the data is used responsibly by governments that we the people elect.

          Hahahahahahahahaha... AAAHahahahahahahahaha...

          I bet you believe in unicorns too...

        2. JohnFen Silver badge

          Re: Trumpian Diploonacy

          "Difference is, we (the west, the free world, whatever you want to call it) have a pact going on where the data is used responsibly by governments that we the people elect."

          What are you talking about here? I don't see where "the west" is walking any sort of high road on this count.

          If we have to be spied on by somebody (and I'm not OK with being spied on by anybody), as a US citizen I'm more comfortable with it being China than the US. Neither can be trusted, but China's ability to harm me, personally, is far lower than the US' ability to do the same.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Trumpian Diploonacy

          Difference is, we (the west, the free world, whatever you want to call it) have a pact going on where the data is used responsibly by governments that we the people elect.

          My dear boy, I wish the UK OSA didn't compel me to remain silent. Let's put it this way: your naïvety is cute. Try to keep that innocence. Also, try reading better news sources - the truth is out there.

          The key difference between the Chinese and "our" lot is that they don't bother pretending. They don't have to.

          In addition, see what parties try to achieve. Locally, both the West and the Chinese seek to establish surveillance of their population and so build a Panopticon. Abroad, both try to steal government secrets and IP. If you think China has no IP itself I may have news for you - smart people don't just live in the West.

  6. seven of five

    I thought being the bad guy would be fun.

    This is a bit like being out with your friends and you are with the one which always drinks too much and starts offending the other guests. Now everyone is looking at your table and he won´t stop shouting...

    dreadful.

  7. K Silver badge

    Given the brexit vote today... I feel bad mentioning this..

    But its for this very reason, the EU is pushing ideas for an EU army and intelligence... So go ahead my Mr Ambassador, all you're doing is pissing off a the leader of a huge geographical block, that consists of most the the US's allies!

    Look brexiteers.... looks what fun we have to look forward to, I hope you've tripled the budget for lube, we're gonna need it...

    1. chivo243 Silver badge
      Coffee/keyboard

      Re: Given the brexit vote today... I feel bad mentioning this..

      A budget for lube?!! I'm speechless, cause I'm pissing myself and spitting tea through my nose

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      EU army and intelligence

      Both bad ideas and if I need to explain them to you then you have no idea of history.

      1. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: EU army and intelligence

        Both bad ideas and if I need to explain them to you then you have no idea of history.

        Heck; even I would think they are both terrible ideas if the EU were simply some sort of Fourth Reich, hoping to implement the last's ideals and goals.

        But they aren't. Though it seems it's a favoured trope of those anti-EU to suggest it is. When they aren't finding something else to fear-monger over.

        What mystifies me is how those fretting over a federal Europe see the United States of America as perfectly acceptable while suggesting having the same for Europe wouldn't be.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: EU army and intelligence

          Not at all, all armies are bad, just some are more bad than others and creating another one is not a good idea.

          1. K Silver badge

            Re: EU army and intelligence

            "creating another one is not a good idea."

            By that thinking, its a great idea... as whilst we'd get a new army, we'd also be decreasing the account by 26. Also, it'd decrease the chances of war in europe, as no individual country would have the resources to start one.

  8. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

    Tennyson

    In Locksley Hall Tennyson wrote

    "Thro' the shadow of the globe we sweep into the younger day;

    Better fifty years of Europe than a cycle of Cathay."

    We seem to be heading into

    "Thro' the shadow of the globe we sweep into the younger day;

    Better buy your stuff from China than obey the USA".

  9. Archivist

    World class bully

    This is politics being used to influence economics.

  10. Blockchain commentard Silver badge

    The newspaper added: "Further, the spokesman said that if such weaknesses exist, it could endanger the close cooperation and joint action of the security services."

    I read that as "Fuhrer, the spokesman ...." and thought, oh, the right wing are on the up (again). My bad!!!!

  11. FuzzyTheBear

    blackmail

    the US is blackmailing everyone to sell their crappy gear it's all .

    1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

      Re: blackmail

      The US doesn't want its kit colocated with Huawei because Huawei might report the stuff going back to Fort Meade where Cisco kit stays schtumm.

    2. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: blackmail

      Be fair. The US isn't engaging in blackmail. It's engaging in extortion.

  12. Nolveys Silver badge
    Windows

    I think that we should trust the US when it says that Huawei has weapons of mass destruction and must be invaded in order to rid the world of evil-doers.

  13. YARR
    Big Brother

    I don't buy it

    Do security agencies normally publish such things?

    There are backdoors, and then there are just bugs which can be exploited to remotely attack comms infrastructure. Individual endpoints can be quickly replaced, but if your network infrastructure is inherently vulnerable you can't quickly replace it. To remain operational in all circumstances, you must have the ability to independently patch bugs for which you need the source code. Which OEMs of network hardware provide the source code for their products and allow you to roll your own patches?

    If you buy from the US you're supporting NSA spying, if you buy Chinese you're supporting their government mandated spyware / great firewall of China. Perhaps an ethical agency should choose neither?

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: I don't buy it

      "Perhaps an ethical agency should choose neither?"

      Much of it is made in China anyway. Rock and a hard place.

  14. DeKrow
    Facepalm

    Logic fail

    Fact:

    The US is threatening to stop information sharing if <5-eyes country> (Germany in this instance) uses Huawei kit.

    Inference:

    If <5-eyes country> doesn't already know what the US knows in order to be making such threatening statements, then there's already a certain amount of information sharing that ISN'T taking place.

    Conclusion:

    The information sharing that the US is threatening to prevent isn't worth keeping in the first place if it hasn't flagged giant Chinese network hardware vendor as a threat.

    Disclaimer:

    The above is assuming that everything being said in public is wholly truthful and transparent. Which it never is. However, this doesn't make it any more forgivable that they're saying such illogical things in public. That, in itself, means they're already caught in a lie.

    1. Mario Becroft

      Re: Logic fail

      You are so beautifully naive.

  15. Yes Me Silver badge

    Not a problem

    Uncle Sam has reportedly threatened Germany with a reduction in intelligence sharing if it allows Huawei equipment to be installed

    I think Germany is realistic and smart enough to reply that they simply don't care. Most "intelligence" material is crud. The Americans will still share the stuff that really matters.

  16. warmndry

    How much money does USA risk losing in licensing fees if China gets to install 5th generation internet and sets the standards world wide? Currently USA owns the 4th generation technologies but has done very little on developing new technologies preferring to fight patent battles over (now) obsolete tech instead.

  17. StargateSg7 Bronze badge

    WHY is this even a problem?

    Use THREE AMD Ryzen 2700x combined CPU/GPU processors running at 3.7 GHz and INTERLEAVING them on a nanosecond time slice interval to emulate ANY Wifi, Edge, GSM, 3G, 4G and 5G waveform at up to 5.5 GHz! I can produce a $1500 US 5G-capable SOFTWARE-DEFINED radio modem that WAAAAAAAY outperforms a $500,000 (400 000 Euros) Huaweii, Ericsson or Nokia mega-5G-switch.

    Sheesh! I've got one of these DIY modems on my desk and it can do up to 5.55 GHZ and around 1,000 users if you use GPU portion of the processors to do the DSP and then output to a decent DAC and amplifier for output to the correct antenna configuration! ANY modern 3 to 5+ GHz general purpose AMD, Intel, and ARM processor can EASILY act as a Radio DSP if you interleave your waveform sample inputs/output properly!

    At the processing rates of any modern GPU portion, it's not hard to do FROM ONE THOUSAND up to TEN THOUSAND simultaneous users using the SIMD instructions to do parallel processing of digital signal samples. Just add more Ryzen CPU/GPU combos to get more users! I don't SEE WHY we have to pay four hundred thousand Euros when 1200 Euros will do the job of 5G signal input/output plus user call and data stream management!

    SDR = Software Defined Radio!

    It Work Using General Purpose CPU's and GPU's! Look it Up!

    .

    1. M.V. Lipvig

      So open a company and sell it. You can be the next billionaire. Just do the world a favor and make the gear drop Faecesbook traffic.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Isn't it the other way around?

    Given that Trump almost immediately leaked precious intel to the Russians, wasn't the country more or less blacklisted by other states as a risk?

    After all, sometimes the very nature of the intelligence can suggest where it comes from and so put its source at risk, so putting it in the little hands of Trump is not a good idea, and as President he has access to everything.

    Add to that the rather questionable and veracious appetite of US intelligence services to get their fingers in literally anything they can lay their hands on without a shred of restraint, control or legal remedy and you may understand that I am very, very suspicious of their attempts to bully people into accepting something that as yet has not seen a shred of public evidence. What has been proven, however, through various incidents over the years, is that the US is not shy of putting backdoors in themselves.

    So, personally I'd tell the US to go [censored] themselves. It may be just the right time to decouple from US influence as it is now compromised at the highest level.

    For the paranoid amongst us it is becoming a question if all those Intel CPU flaws are truly accidents, as they just happen to help with backdooring gear..

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I buy it...

    Literally, as in the stuff the Chinese company makes. For a large UK consumer of telecoms equipment.

    Very simple isn't it? Make sure you buy our overpriced tat, full of vulns, and assembled from stuff made by subcontractors in err...oh yeah...China. We'll just stick a nice Cisco logo on the front to convince you it's safe for you. Backdoors, no - nothing to see here (cough), move along.

    Why does that happen? Because US manufacturers invest more in "supporting" friendly congressmen and senators whose ear and ample back pockets they have control of than they do on R&D. Which is why they are a generation adrift of the competition in features, functionality, reliability, energy consumption. And yes, security.

    To be clear I buy the US stuff too. I know which my internal customers prefer for performance, reliability, customer support and price. And it ain't from over the pond. Both are equally capable of looking at you.

  20. M.V. Lipvig
    Facepalm

    These arguments

    are friggin amazing. China has already been proven to be willing to do anything to get ahead. They routinely spy, steal, snoop, require the relinquishment of IP, you name it they unashamedly do it. But because the US says Huawei gear is unsecure, suddenly everyone is demanding proof to the five 9s that the Chinese plan to spy using Huawei gear?

    No. The way the hardware works it is incredibly easy to patch the software to allow seamless spying on any circuit passing through it. The gear may not have the necessary software NOW to allow spying, but wait till you've heavily invested in their gear. The Chinese have had zero problems spying using EVERY OTHER MEANS POSSIBLE, why are you all so convinced they won't spy using 5G gear?

    I'll add in, this applies to any telecom gear, not just Huawei. All of it has this capability, due to the need to have protection path switching that is invisible to the customer. Using this capability, any circuit passing through the node can be mirrored and sent elsewhere. The only time you'd see a hit is if the circuit actually switches, which results in a 50ms hit, but if it's mirroring the circuit you'd never know.

    The only way to be truly secure is to develop your own gear. But, if that isn't an option and you had to pick gear that could potentially spy on you, were I European I'd rather be spied on by the Americans than the Chinese. America has been Europe's best friend for the last hundred years. We've jumped into 2 major wars and kept the peace since WW2, and spent trillions on Europe's defense. I figure the next major world conflict is going to be between East and West, and it would sure suck if your 5G network were turned against you.

    1. Alister Silver badge

      Re: These arguments

      were I European I'd rather be spied on by the Americans than the Chinese

      As a European, I'd much rather be spied on by the Chinese, they are less likely to try and sell my soul and my info to the highest bidder.

      America has been Europe's best friend for the last hundred years. We've jumped into 2 major wars and kept the peace since WW2, and spent trillions on Europe's defense.

      We've jumped into 2 major wars and caused many more minor ones since WW2, and spent trillions undermining Europe's defence.

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