Why are Americans being warned not to buy a Huawei smartphone?

The warning came from U.S. intelligence chiefs on Tuesday.
Author:
Updated:
Original:

What's happening?

Chinese smartphone maker and Apple rival Huawei is trying to crack into the lucrative U.S. market, but consumers are being warned before jumping on board.

The heads of six U.S. intelligence agencies – including the FBI, CIA and NSA – told a Senate hearing on Tuesday that Americans could leave themselves vulnerable to Chinese spying should they purchase one of the company's handsets.

Citing Huawei's close relationship with the Chinese government, CNBC reports that FBI Director Chris Wray said on Tuesday that this "provides the capacity to exert pressure or control over our telecommunications infrastructure.

"It provides the capacity to maliciously modify or steal information. And it provides the capacity to conduct undetected espionage," he added.

Can you buy Huawei phones now?

Yes, but only unlocked versions.

As Engadget reports, Huawei has been trying to tie up a deal with a major cellphone carrier and had one in place with AT&T before it was called off, apparently amid pressure from Congress.

You can still buy the unlocked versions of its Mate 10 Pro phones via Amazon and Best Buy, among other companies.

Best Buy just pulled a load of "fake reviews" of Huawei phones that were posted on its site, after the Chinese company allegedly offered early access to its latest model to people who posted positive reviews.

BGR reports this shows how Huawei – which is the world's second largest smartphone company by sales – is "desperate" to sell phones in the U.S.

Why there's a certain irony in this

Tech site 9to5Mac published an opinion piece on Tuesday pointing out the irony in intelligence chiefs warning Americans about potential espionage through their phones.

This is because the FBI itself was locked in a battle with Apple about allowing federal agents to override its security protections so the government could access content on the phones of those suspected of federal crimes.

The website argues that even if U.S. authorities only use this to catch criminals, weakening data encryption software to allow it could present further problems down the line, offering gateways into phones for hackers and fraudsters.

Next Up

ambulance

Belle Plaine man dies after duck boat capsizes on lake

One man was found sitting on the overturned boat while another man was in the water.

Screen Shot 2020-11-29 at 4.59.51 PM

Watch: Adam Thielen watches end of Vikings/Panthers just like all of us

The Vikings receiver looked like a true fan on Sunday afternoon.

Chad Beebe

Chad Beebe's roller-coaster fourth-quarter keeps Vikings playoff hopes alive

A muffed punt and a game-winning touchdown helped defeat the Panthers on Sunday afternoon.

127266986_2766399800267634_3587849554502438415_n

West-central MN cops warn kids to stay off ice, or 'Santa won't come'

This comes amid repeated ice warnings across the state.

covid-19, coronavirus, PPE

Nov. 29 COVID-19 update: 57 deaths, nearly 9,000 more cases

Nearly 100,000 tests were included in Sunday's report.

jim ramstad

Watch former Rep. Jim Ramstad's memorial service online

The ceremony will be live-streamed for the public on Sunday.

EDL1LeKXsAEeH32

How high can Rashod Bateman go in the 2021 NFL Draft?

The Gophers star receiver has plenty of praise heading into next April.

TCF Bank Stadium

15 more from Gopher football team test positive for COVID-19

That brings the total number of cases from this outbreak to 40.

Teddy Bridgewater

5 questions for Vikings-Panthers Week 12 NFC battle

The Vikings welcome Teddy Bridgewater back to U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday.

police lights

Shelter-in-place in Albert Lea after police officer shot in the chest

The officer was able to drive to an emergency room.

En-KfRaXEAEbuE7

St. Paul officer shoots man who got out of dumpster, ran towards police

A report says the man was naked and had a steak knife.

Screen Shot 2020-11-28 at 6.58.11 PM

Gophers dominate second half to defeat Loyola-Marymount

Marcus Carr scored 26 to send the Gophers to 2-0.

Related

Best Buy tries to make buying a smartphone plan a not-terrible experience

For anyone who's lost the will to live while assessing cellphone options.

When should you give your kid their first smartphone?

A new campaign is calling on parents to "Wait Until 8th."

Coming soon to your smartphone ... Mario Kart

This is going to be huge for Nintendo.

Coming soon to your smartphone ... Mario Kart

This is going to be huge for Nintendo.

Best Buy stores could soon be home to Apple's secret screen-repair machines

Apple is giving its repair machines to third-party companies for the first times.

Why has Apple been slowing down older iPhones?

Apple says it's prolonging battery life.

Best Buy offers deal to make new Samsung Galaxy S9 slightly less unaffordable

Major carriers will soon be taking orders for the S9 and S9+.

Uber will stop tracking you after you've been dropped off

The ride-sharing service had a change of heart about the controversial feature.