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Lionel Hutz

Huawei/ZTE . . . better to have the Chinese spying on us?

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Yesterday, the House Intel Committee released a report that concluded that Chinese telecommunications giants Huawei and ZTE should get the stink eye when doing business in the U.S. Bored, I went over to Reddit and saw that they were discussing the report. I looked in the comments section, and was quite a bit surprised.


Within the comments section were a sizable group of people who were completely ok with the Chinese government spying on them. They reasoned that the Chinese government has no interest in their potentially criminal activities online, and moreover, has no power to prosecute them, so who cares? To them, the prospect of the American government spying on them was much more of a threat. They thought the U.S. government was being hypocritical in banning a foreign country from attempting to spy when a) the U.S. government spies on its own citizens and B) the U.S. government is attempting to spy on other countries just like the Chinese are.


I thought that was ridiculous. Reddit is a relatively liberal website, so the comment section is prone to . . . overreaction. I don't think the U.S. government "spies" on its citizens without legal oversight, agency guidelines, and an honest to god belief that they actually need to do it. And the notion that the Chinese government spying on U.S. citizens is somehow better makes no sense. Thinking strategically, the reason that the Chinese government wants Huawei to break into U.S. markets is to install a telecommunications network rife with backdoors and vulnerabilities. Whether or not the Chinese government ever actually uses those vulnerabilities is irrelevant . . . their purpose is as a weapon in the event of war or as a means of political persuasion. A United States that is at the mercy of the Chinese government is not a stronger United States, and the citizens living within it suffer by implication. Finally, the fact that the U.S. is a hypocrite when it comes to this stuff is fine by me. Wouldn't we want the U.S. to continue its efforts on spying abroad while preventing foreign countries from doing the same to us?



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