Huawei's Global Head Of Cyber Security Wants The Government 'To Have As Much Data As Possible'

from the thinking-it-through dept

In Der Spiegel's recent revelations about the far-reaching nature of the NSA's spykit, it mentions several US companies, Samsung from South Korea, and one from China -- Huawei. Like the others, Huawei denied any knowledge of the modifications to its products that Der Spiegel claims are used by the NSA to break into systems. This isn't the first time that the finger has been pointed at Huawei. Some years back, Huawei was accused of facilitating spying for the Chinese government, but after an 18-month investigation, no evidence was found of this. That fact allowed John Suffolk, Global Head of Cyber Security for Huawei and the former UK Government CIO, to enjoy the irony of Snowden's leaks about backdoors in US products:

Huawei were investigated by the American Congress and we were given a "clean bill of health". Well as journalists and analysts said "lots of ifs buts and maybe's but no evidence of wrongdoing", or my favourite "a report for vegetarians, no meat", so in my definition no evidence of wrongdoing is a clean bill of health. Based on this lack of evidence of any wrongdoing, the American Congress said that Huawei should not be allowed into America, so based on all of these revelations [from Snowden], and there will be many more on America, should all other Governments ban American technology companies, especially Cisco and Juniper given their position in critical infrastructures?
Perhaps triggered by the latest Der Spiegel article that mentions Huawei in the context of spying, Suffolk has another blog post on the subject. Discussing the Tailored Access Operations (TAO) that Der Spiegel revealed, he writes:
Questioning the morality or legality of TAO misses the point.
Since when did people operate in a moral vacuum? I seem to recall the "just following orders" excuse was rejected definitively some years ago. The morality and legality of TAO is precisely the point. Suffolk then goes on to explain:
In relation to my views I am quite clear I want my Government to have as much data as possible. I want them to have the tools, techniques and resources to mine this data to stop a terrible event from occurring -- stopping one event is good enough for me. The alternative is we have to sift through the body parts once an event has occurred.
Leaving aside both the false dichotomy (either total surveillance or terrorist carnage) and the implicit emotional blackmail (if you don't agree that the government should spy on everyone, any deaths will be on your head), it would seem that Suffolk hasn't thought this through.

"I want my Government to have as much data as possible," he writes. Really? So he's happy for CCTV cameras to be installed in every room in every building in the land -- because that's certainly extremely useful data for the government. It is quite likely that such CCTV footage, suitably analyzed using all those tools that Suffolk wants the government to have at its disposal, would lead to the occasional careless or incompetent terrorist being caught before any harm could be caused. And remember, even if this 24x7 CCTV surveillance of everyone in the country only stops "one event", that's still a good enough justification according to him.

I can't really believe Suffolk is advocating such an extreme approach, but it's where his logic leads. That's why there must be some proportionality in the government's efforts to keep us safe, and a weighing of what we would lose in terms of privacy and personal freedom if we allowed it to "have as much data as possible". If there isn't either, Suffolk's naïve acquiescence in maximalist surveillance opens the door to a deep and possibly long-lasting oppression far worse than extremely rare terrorist attacks whose impact pales into insignificance compared to dozens of everyday risks we accept without a moment's thought.

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Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2014 @ 7:42am

    An extreme surveillance state leads to one outcome, a totalitarian state run by an aristocracy. If and When their power slips, the state descends into violent anarchy, as various groups try to extract revenge and/or gain power. Therefore the approach he advocates leads to more violence, not less. Look at the problems Russia has, along with Iraq, Afghanistan etc.

     

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  2.  
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    Ninja (profile), Jan 8th, 2014 @ 7:42am

    Pot and Kettle, a tale of two words.

    Except that Mr Pot seems to be jealous of Mr Kettle at this point for doing what Pot was accused of but never actually did.

    Similarities are astounding!

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2014 @ 7:49am

    You're amazed that a technology company in china is cheering for as much surveillance as possible?

     

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  4. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Jan 8th, 2014 @ 8:01am

    Answer to question: WHENEVER POSSIBLE, The Rich and Gov't are totally amoral at best, with anti-moral the goal!

    "Since when did people operate in a moral vacuum?"

    This is what ordinary, amiable, people can never grasp: The Rich are not like you, they do not practice the morality that pretend to and would hold you to: your practice of morality is one of their main weapons, while they make themselves "free" of all taxes besides moral consequences for their parasiting off laborers.

    Thinking The Rich and Gov't to ever practice or concern with morality is an appalling gullibility for the minion to exhibit, yet only too typical, though the rest of the piece approaches good.

    This also hits near why I rail at Mike for his ignoring the morality inherent in copyright: "I made it, therefore I own it, you do not" is fundamental morality, can not be reduced nor denied. Same thing with your privacy: it's inalienably YOURS even though gov't and corporations can violate it.

    Gov't and corporations will only INCREASE their violations of your privacy. They're NOT going to stop merely because known to be criminals (they may like that, just as you kids claim the title of "pirate"): it's still likely the Snowden "leak" was just to implement the next step, as here: OPEN CALLS FOR YET MORE SURVEILLANCE.

    The Rich are not amiable hedonists as you "libertarian" kids are: The Rich are actively IMmoral, schooled in how to steal from the poor, and actually delight in causing suffering. They make sport of the poor in a "game" to be EVIL as possible short of causing a revolt.

    03:58:29[d-365-2]

     

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  5.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jan 8th, 2014 @ 8:19am

    Re: Answer to question: WHENEVER POSSIBLE, The Rich and Gov't are totally amoral at best, with anti-moral the goal!

    This also hits near why I rail at Mike


    No it doesn't. You incessantly attack TechDirt, Mike, and every reader here because you have a palpable, irrational, and inexplicable hatred for us all.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2014 @ 8:26am

    Re: Answer to question: WHENEVER POSSIBLE, The Rich and Gov't are totally amoral at best, with anti-moral the goal!

    I made it, therefore I own it, you do not" is fundamental morality - Known as selfishness

    I have no problem with that approach but if I want to make a video game from works done by Tolkien. I should be able to make a video game after the original copyright expires. He didn't create it. His children didn't create it. I am not stealing his work and claiming it is mine. I am building off his idea to make something that he would have never done. How copyright was originally designed. You seemed to think that ideas shouldn't be built off of and I think if the world was done your way we would have never left the stone ages.

     

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  7.  
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    artp (profile), Jan 8th, 2014 @ 8:32am

    Might as well put "1984" in your tagline, Winston

    I'm tired of having to type it in every time something like this comes up. And to think that this was presented as pure fantasy when I first read the book, even though J. Edgar Hoover was operating in this mode without our knowledge - yet.

    The problem with letting the government run our lives is that they keep proving that they can't run their own lives. One outcome of increased spying is that DHS departments will be playing God with people's lives even more.

    I keep trying to decide which is worse: a pre-adolescent child being sexually abused by its mother's boyfriend, or spreading the same work out across several foster homes, with perhaps a shallow grave at the end of each one?

    At least with the abuse confined to one place, that spark of hope can still survive. Spreading it around could totally extinguish it. The only advantage to keeping the government out is that it lets the family in, for better or worse.

    Thank God that my great-grandmother rescued my mother and her siblings from a dangerous situation without the government preventing her from helping. It isn't legal to have family these days, but then, it's now illegal to grow up the way I did.

    Sincerely,
    Winston Smith, 2014 version

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2014 @ 8:44am

    Re: Might as well put "1984" in your tagline, Winston

    I would have gone with [REDACTED], [REDACTED], myself.

     

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  9.  
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    Pragmatic, Jan 8th, 2014 @ 8:47am

    Re: Answer to question: WHENEVER POSSIBLE, The Rich and Gov't are totally amoral at best, with anti-moral the goal!

    This also hits near why I rail at Mike for his ignoring the morality inherent in copyright: "I made it, therefore I own it, you do not" is fundamental morality, can not be reduced nor denied.


    In what statute is that true? Cathy, this is why we laugh at you. In your warped imagination, every new work is created and born in a vacuum, completely original and the sole property of the creator. Really? Name a song, a film, or a book that can in any way be said to be completely original. Go on, I dare you.

    And that's why equating ideas with property is such a huge fallacy. Like everyone else I've ever argued this with, you fondly believe that copyright is a bountiful fountain flowing deep and wide with money from people who pay to view your content in the manner in which you deign to provide it. You see yourself, no doubt, as a benefactor of society who generously provides the means for the public to access your content, and at such a bargain, too. Why, you're giving it away!

    Here's the problem: the reason you're making nothing from it right now is that you've got nothing that anyone wants to buy. Remember when you tried to get Mike to hire you to write for TD? How we laughed!

    So yeah, copyright is not a potential gold mine for you even if you get the price you want to be paid for every copy. Because you have to sell actual copies.

    Same thing with your privacy: it's inalienably YOURS even though gov't and corporations can violate it.


    Privacy is property, now? Uh, no. Not even close.

    And that's why she gets reported, kids!

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    trinsic, Jan 8th, 2014 @ 9:04am

    "I want my Government to have as much data as possible."
    This is a psychological tactic called "Manufacturing Consent" Look it up and you see why they go in the complete opposite direction of what they should be saying.

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2014 @ 9:15am

    Re:

    That is the thing about extreme surveillance states: They are very good at avoiding any type of opposition since they will know about it!
    Egypt in particular and Libya to a far lesser degree has something to aspire to in seeing the western worlds freedom.
    If western countries like UK and US go the other way, well, what is the shiny example of freedom? Somalia?
    If the deterioration is slow enough, it is a hard sell to call for a revolution!

     

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  12.  
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    Gwiz (profile), Jan 8th, 2014 @ 9:25am

    Re: Answer to question: WHENEVER POSSIBLE, The Rich and Gov't are totally amoral at best, with anti-moral the goal!

    "I made it, therefore I own it, you do not" is fundamental morality, can not be reduced nor denied.


    That is how physical property and intellectual property works up to a point, but you haven't carried that thought out far enough to discern the difference between the two.

    For physical property it's: "I made it, therefore I own it, you do not. I have now sold it to you, therefore YOU own it and I do not."

    That is completely different than how copyright works, which is: "I made it, therefore I own it. I have now sold it to you, but I STILL own it and you don't."

    Are you really advocating for abolishing copyright? Because every time you conflate physical property with intellectual property in this manner, it seems like you are wanting intellectual property to be just like physical property, which would require the abolishment of copyright laws.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2014 @ 10:24am

    Re: Re: Answer to question: WHENEVER POSSIBLE, The Rich and Gov't are totally amoral at best, with anti-moral the goal!

    Maybe ootb does not exist, and is merely an entity made up of trollishness. That would explain a lot.

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Slimwhitman, Jan 8th, 2014 @ 10:52am

    Is he on drugs?

    Or is Chinese money causing his brain to redact itself from reality?

     

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  15.  
    icon
    ottermaton (profile), Jan 8th, 2014 @ 2:29pm

    Re: Re: Answer to question: WHENEVER POSSIBLE, The Rich and Gov't are totally amoral at best, with anti-moral the goal!

    Here's the problem: the reason you're making nothing from it right now is that you've got nothing that anyone wants to buy. Remember when you tried to get Mike to hire you to write for TD? How we laughed!

    I must have missed that. Got a link(s)? I could use a good laugh at ootb's expense.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2014 @ 5:10pm

    John Suffolk wouldn't know what it's like to be an American with freedoms and constitutional rights, even if James Madison walked up and punched him in the nose. Which I have no doubt Madison would do, if he were still alive today.

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    out_of_the_cornhole, Jan 8th, 2014 @ 7:57pm

    Re: Re: Re: Answer to question: WHENEVER POSSIBLE, The Rich and Gov't are totally amoral at best, with anti-moral the goal!

    a big, gooey ball of virtual troll energy created in the aftermath of a troll supernova...

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    out_of_the_cornhole, Jan 8th, 2014 @ 8:02pm

    Re: Re: Answer to question: WHENEVER POSSIBLE, The Rich and Gov't are totally amoral at best, with anti-moral the goal!

    She'd need an army of editors to follow her around and clean up her atrocious grammar if she could form a coherent piece not swaddled in crazy.

     

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  19.  
    icon
    toyotabedzrock (profile), Jan 8th, 2014 @ 8:42pm

    Gee I wonder why we didn't want his products.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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