Wake up Britain – Huawei is a national threat –

It appeared the EU understood the power of data in the hands of large tech companies when it passed the Global Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The problem with GDPR, as with our current internet, is enforcement of privacy laws. Since the current internet permits the easy aggregation of data, large tech companies have an easy time discovering one’s patterns of behavior. So too do authoritarian regimes. A secure 5G network, as detailed above, would deploy identity-based encryption to prevent individual data from being used without consent

To further illustrate how authoritarian nations use their companies to enable influence beyond their borders, “Engineering Global Consent” – a research paper by Samantha Hoffman of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute – details the story of a Chinese big data and artificial intelligence company. The company, GTCOM, collects 2-3 petabytes of data per year to provide language translation services. The service uses machine learning to translate languages. The data, however, doesn’t stop there. It continues to flow towards the intelligence and influence arms of the Chinese Communist Regime.

While this alone is not a smoking gun, when combined with the knowledge that Russia used big data, AI bots and social media networks to influence Americans during and after the 2016 elections, it presents a complete understanding of how totalitarians can extend their influence into democracies using globalisation and the internet. If that is not enough, the recent NBA incident regarding Hong Kong should be. While general manager of the Houston Rockets Daryl Morey did not get fired for supporting Hong Kong, Roy Jones – a mid-level employee at the Marriott corporation who innocently and without political intent liked a tweet – did, as detailed in my book “Stealth War.”

All of this points to the fact that data security is a national security issue, and the Chinese Communist Party has the incentive to both harvest and harness data for their own illiberal ends. These ends include the suppression of speech, which is counter to the interests of the British people. If the UK still disagrees that Huawei fits the definition of a national security risk, then at least I have fulfilled my duty as a friend to convey the threat.


Brigadier General (retd) Robert Spalding is the former senior director for strategy at the National Security Council


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