We Did It Huawei…

The punning opportunities are endless aren’t they?

Some commentators are pooh-poohing the hoo-hah about the national security threats associated with Huawei. It’s a senetence that, when spoken, could form the basis of a test presented by a speech therapist.

As it happens, I agree with those commentators. In any computer network that conveys truly sensitive information, no network hardware provider has access to the true story of what traffic is moving over those networks. Encryption is overlaid, mathematically impossible to crack, and provided by a different vendor than the one that provides the switches and routers responsible for conveying the data around the world. Any attempt to subvert this in a meaningful way would be so expensive, and require such an elaborate conspiracy amongst guileless tech workers, that it would be practically impossible by any metric.

But that doesn’t mean I think Huawei should be used by UK or US companies. Unless the cost savings they anticipate factor in the cost of putting said network encryption in place. Even in banks, the encryption tech is presently so costly to implement and run that it’s only used on specific connections that demand it according to regulations or overwhelming commercial risk.

And there’s another consideration too, but it’s a moral and philosophical one, so I expect it to butter no parsnips for finance people or technical people. That consideration is respect for intellectual property.

Can there be any reasonable doubt that Huawei’s technology portfolio is made up from a mish-mash of IP stolen from other companies? Cisco, Juniper, Nortel, Brocade, EMC, Citrix, Palo Alto, Checkpoint, Sony, Ericsson, Apple, Google, IBM, Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, Manchester, Harvard, Massachusetts, California… need I go on?

There are a couple of ways that we can make it work for us, though.

The first is in reciprocation. The second is in pun value.

I’m minded of the example – stunning at the time – of Nissan, who were bold enough to set up a factory in Sunderland, thus transforming the career prospects for thousands of people in a previously benighted corner of England.

I’m also mindful that every story I’ve heard of companies attempting to set up their own operations in China has been marred by demands from the Chinese that the western company must share its IP with the Chinese, and allow Chinese competitors to use this IP for their own benefit.

So. We should allow Huawei to sell into the UK market, and be deployed for critical national infrastructure, on the condition that those products are all manufactured in the UK. Our experts should also have access to Huawei’s IP, for auditing purposes, as required for national security, banking and other sensitive applications.

Boris could claim a great victory for himself and his chums by thinking about his new northern Tory voters and insisting that the new factories are built in the Newcastle area.

Then he can pop a champage cork in a YouTube video and proclaim “Huawei The Lads” – and lo, everyone would click, like.

AJ

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