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Kagan: Conversation With Huawei Senior Vice President Joy Tan

Why is the U.S. government warning U.S. companies and users to stay away from Huawei? Last week I visited with Joy Tan, senior vice president of the Chinese wireless and telecom giant, in Washington D.C. She shared some very interesting points of view that I thought was important to share with you.

First, according to our government, the warning is simple and straight forward. It says Huawei smartphones and wireless network gear can be monitored by the Chinese government. That sounds pretty creepy, right?

This sounds like the stories we have heard from companies like Google, Apple and others in China. However, these are American companies doing business in other countries. They do whatever it takes to do business in those countries. These are stories about the security of Chinese people in China.

The Huawei story is the opposite. This is about the security of Americans in America. Or other people in their own countries. And whether Huawei poses a security threat or not.

No evidence of Huawei security threat, just warnings

We have not seen evidence but we have heard plenty of warnings. And this story is not new. The same warnings were issued years ago, around 2012, when the wireless networks globally were moving from 3G to 4G.

Warnings at that time kept Huawei out of most U.S. networks. Then things quieted down for a few years. Now as we are moving from 4G to 5G, the volume is being turned up again.

In fact, this time around the warning is even greater. It says the threat is so great that any other country that uses Huawei equipment in their networks is a security threat to America, so we will keep an arm’s length distance to protect ourselves.

If there is a real threat, then I am happy the government is issuing this warning. However, if there is not really a threat, this puts political pressure on Huawei.

Huawei is giant, global wireless network and smartphone company

Huawei is a giant telecom and wireless company. They make things like smartphones and network gear and they sell to countries globally. Many of these countries cannot afford the cost to upgrade their networks, so they rely on this company and their discounts to get there.

That’s part of the story. The way the government explains it, Huawei gives discounts to countries, so they can be the wireless network supplier. That means they could also have a competitive advantage with their smartphones and other gear.

The worry is this could also give another government the ability to monitor communications between individuals, companies and governments.

Here is the problem: we hear the warnings, but we have not seen any evidence to support it.

Conversation with Joy Tan, Huawei SVP

My conversation with Joy Tan was eye-opening. Joy comes from China, then came to America to go to college. Then moved back to China and started working for Huawei. She grew through the ranks and became an SVP of this enormous, global telecom and wireless giant.

She moved back to the United States and now lives in Dallas but is moving to the Washington D.C.-area to take the Huawei story public. So expect to see and hear quite a bit more from their perspective. Their intention seems to be to level the playing field by sharing the other side of the argument.

Until now, Huawei was quiet. No longer. They are going to start spreading the word about who they are and about why we should not fear them. How they are a global leader and how they want to do business in the United States as well.

Huawei will no longer be quiet

Expect to see Joy stepping up to answer questions and critics. I expect her to show the other side of the coin. Trying to soften the sharp edges that has kept them out of America for the better part of the last decade.

The problem is, how can they prove a negative? The burden of proof makes this matter very difficult.

So, if that’s the case, how else can Huawei prove they are safe. How can they show their gear cannot and will not be monitored by the Chinese government?

That’s the million-dollar question.

Is Huawei security threat real or just politics?

As I see it the question is this: This is either a real security concern or this is just about politics. The problem is there is no way for us to know.

If it is real, can we develop solutions to deal with the threat? Or would it make more sense just to keep them out? And what if this is just politics? Is there a way to solve this PR nightmare?

I love America. However, I don’t have the answer to this question. I don’t know whether this security threat is real or just political. All I know is our government continues to warn us about it over and over again.

If the threat is real, then I agree, keep it far away. But, if the threat is not real and is just politics, then what should we do next?

There are ways to protect our privacy. Let me give you one example. Encryption is one answer that has not been discussed. If our voice and data were encrypted, even if monitored, without the encryption code, it would be unreadable. That’s just one solution that pops into my mind and I’m sure there are many others.

Since I don’t know anyone who really knows whether this is real or just political, that leaves us in a quandary. And that’s the problem.

I will continue to follow this story as it unfolds. I will continue to follow Joy Tan and the Huawei team and see what they say and do and how this next chapter unfolds. Whether it makes a difference or not. I believe their goal is to balance the story. Let’s see if they can do that.―RCRWireless News

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