Former Canadian spy sees Huawei risk as manageable

Wed Oct 10, 2012 5:44pm EDT
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By Randall Palmer

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada has no need to stop Huawei Technologies Co Ltd from doing business with Canadian telecommunications companies even though the Chinese equipment maker could very well try to engage in cyber-espionage for Beijing, a former Canadian intelligence official said on Wednesday.

"Is Huawei a threat? Yes, absolutely," said Ray Boisvert, the former No. 3 at the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS). "I really do believe that it's possible to manage it the way it is."

Boisvert, who served as assistant director at CSIS, agrees that the Canadian government should block Huawei's participation in building a new network for government data and communications, a conclusion Ottawa appears already to have reached.

Even so, he said in an interview that he has reached a different conclusion for data networks outside the government that are provided by telecommunications companies such as Telus Corp.

"The risk is, yes, I believe Huawei would work at the behest of the Chinese government and would look to intercept communications, but good luck trying to find which ones are important in a sea of a billion fish," Boisvert told Reuters.


A U.S. House Intelligence Committee report on Monday said Beijing could use equipment made by Huawei, the world's second-largest maker of routers and other telecom gear, and ZTE Corp,, the fifth largest, to engage in espionage and endanger vital systems.

The panel said U.S. companies should stop doing business with Huawei and ZTE, and the committee chairman urged that Canadian companies do the same. Australia, for its part, has banned Huawei from helping build its national broadband network.   Continued...

A man walks past a Huawei company logo outside the entrance of a Huawei office in Wuhan, Hubei province October 9, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer