The heads of the intelligence community – NSA, CIA, FBI and the Defense Intelligence Agency, appearing in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said that Chinese smartphones posed a threat to national security.
Exactly why they singled out those two Chinese phones, compared to the iPhone, which is likely made in the same factory, is not clear. It would seem that two phones, made in the same factory by the same people would have a similar security risk, but apparently not.
FBI Director Chris Wray said that it was because Huawei and ZTE are beholden to the Chinese government. I would think that Foxconn, who, for example, makes TVs for Sony and others, Cisco networking gear, HP and Dell computers and Nintendo games would also be beholden to the Chinese government in a very big way.
I suspect there is classified intelligence that they are not sharing that explains why these two companies are being singled out.
The concern, they say, is that these devices could steal information or conduct undetectable surveillance using the phone’s user.
AT&T was going to going to sell Huawei phones but magically decided not to last month. No doubt these same agencies explained to AT&T why that was not a good plan.
Ultimately, everyone has to make their own decisions, but there are plenty of phones made in Korea, which seems to be a more friendly locale. There are no phones made in the United States.
Apple and others do buy some parts in the US, like glass from Corning, but those parts are then shipped to China to be assembled. Apple is looking at assembling some phones in the US, likely for the PR value, but doesn’t actually do that. Even if they do, since iPhones represent less than 15% of smartphone sales, that will still mean that 80% to 90% of smartphones are manufactured in other countries.
Information for this post came from CNN.