China Trying To Bring WAPI Back Yet Again

from the if-at-first-you-don't-succeed dept

For a few years now, China has been trying to push its own, incompatible version of WiFi, called WAPI. The Chinese claim that WiFi isn’t secure enough, and they’ve expressed particular concern that the US government could break the 128-bit encryption used in the 802.11i standard — while ignoring widely held concerns that WAPI contains backdoors for the Chinese government (though perhaps since they don’t censor the internet, there’s nothing to worry about). WAPI caused quite an international flap when it was announced, because it would have forced foreign companies to partner with a Chinese vendor and license the technology if they wanted to sell their WiFi equipment in the country. Although China eventually backed down, it’s brought WAPI up again several times, and — lo and behold — it’s done it again. This time, the 2008 summer Olympics in Beijing could provide a “need” for WAPI, because apparently “media users were skeptical about the safety of the current WLAN technology”. Not that we’d doubt the veracity of claims made by the People’s Daily, but given the widespread use of WiFi by media outlets throughout the world, it wouldn’t appear that they’re overly concerned about its security. China’s really trying to take advantage of the Beijing Olympics to show off its technological prowess, particularly in wireless. It’s been saying for some time that its 3G mobile networks will be up and running in time for the games, but it’s continually pushed back (for what’s going on four years) the government approvals necessary to start building and operating them, because its homegrown TD-SCDMA standard hasn’t been ready. By holding back the country’s mobile networks this way, and potentially forcing foreign visitors to buy new WAPI-compatible equipment to use WiFi at the Olympics, China’s not demonstrating its technological ability; it’s demonstrating that protectionism is still the order of the day.

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Comments on “China Trying To Bring WAPI Back Yet Again”

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Sanguine Dream says:

Little Drummer Boy...

The Chinese want the rest of the world to march to the beat of their drums plain and simple. Can it really be called technological prowess if they are trying to force people to use a method that is no more secure than the current method and conviently opens a lot of back doors for the Chinese government? I’m willing to bet that more than a few of those back doors would allow them to basically hack sites that have “undesireable content”.

Anon says:

Can we blame 'em?

My guess is that these backdoors provide no more control over WAPI transferring than the U.S. currently has over WiFi (and you’re a fool if you think the gov’t can’t break a 128-bit encryption). This is all just a power game, yet another attempt of the sleeping giant to put some pressure on the current technology monopolies.

UniBoy says:

It's called the IEEE

The IEEE is an international organization with 360,000 members from 175 countries. Any nation that does not like the current IEEE standards can certainly play a role in formulating the next one. Any nation that wants to circumvent the process in order to promote their own standard over an international one is clearly seeking to undermine the benefits of international standards bodies.

As usual, the powers without merit don’t like being subjected to the rules of the meritocracy.

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