Six top U.S. intelligence chiefs, when asked Tuesday about the threat of Chinese telecom companies, said they would not recommend Americans use products or services from Chinese smartphone maker Huawei.
Directors for the CIA, FBI, NSA and several other intelligence agencies first expressed their distrust of Apple-rival Huawei and fellow Chinese telecom company ZTE in reference to public servants and state agencies.
But when prompted during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, all six officials indicated they would not recommend private citizens use products from the companies.
“We’re deeply concerned about the risks of allowing any company or entity that is beholden to foreign governments that don’t share our values to gain positions of power inside our telecommunications networks,” FBI Director Chris Wray testified.
“That provides the capacity to exert pressure or control over our telecommunications infrastructure,” Wray said. “It provides the capacity to maliciously modify or steal information. And it provides the capacity to conduct undetected espionage.”
Huawei has been trying to enter the U.S. market, first through a partnership with AT&T that was ultimately called off. Huawei assured CNBC its products would still launch on American markets.
The intelligence chiefs commended American telecom companies for their measured resistance to the Chinese companies during the hearing Tuesday.
“This is a challenge I think that is only going to increase, not lessen over time for us,” NSA Director Admiral Michael Rogers said. “You need to look long and hard at companies like this.”