Canada ‘at risk’ from Chinese firm, U.S. warns

Head of U.S. committee says ordinary Canadians should be worried about Huawei

by Greg Weston, CBC News
Posted: Oct 9, 2012 5:17 AM ET
Last Updated: Oct 9, 2012 5:22 AM ET

The head of the powerful U.S. Intelligence Committee is urging Canadian companies not to do business with the Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei as a matter of national security.

In a scathing report released Monday in Washington, the congressional committee branded Huawei a threat to U.S. national security, and urged American telecommunications companies using the Chinese firm to “find other vendors.”

The committee concluded that allowing Huawei to help build American networks could potentially be used by Chinese cyber-spies to steal U.S. state and commercial secrets, or even to disrupt everything from electrical power grids to banking systems in a time of conflict.

But in an exclusive interview with CBC News, committee chairman Mike Rogers warns that Canada is equally at risk.

The world’s second-largest telecommunications equipment supplier, Huawei is already providing high-speed networks for Bell Canada, Telus, SaskTel and Wind Mobile – deals that Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government has openly applauded.

But the next big deal could be helping to build a new super-secure telecom system for the Canadian government, a multi-billion project in part to replace data systems contaminated beyond repair by a massive Chinese cyber-attack in 2010.

Allowing Huawei near any part of that network, says the chairman of the U.S. Intelligence Committee, could be courting disaster.

‘This is your personal data. This could be your medical records, your financial records, everything that you hold dear that you think is locked away in a safe place on your computer…’ —Mike Rogers, chair of U.S. Intelligence Committee

“I absolutely would not do it,” Rogers said. “The key word there is new secure network; I would not have the faith and confidence.”

Rogers says the information about Huawei gathered by his committee “puts at risk consumer data, and puts at risk security interests certainly of the United States, and I would argue of Canada as well.”

The telecommunications systems in the two countries, he says, “are so integrated I would urge the private sector to find other vendors.”

The Republican congressman from Michigan says ordinary Canadian consumers have every reason to worry about threats to cyber-security.

“This is your personal data. This could be your medical records, your financial records, everything that you hold dear that you think is locked away in a safe place on your computer that goes across these networks and becomes subject to being gathered by the Chinese government.”

P.O.V.

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Head of U.S. committee says ordinary Canadians should be worried about Huawei


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