Wednesday , October 20 2021

Washington Redskins killed stadium Wifi deal with Huawei over security concerns


FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland.
Photo: Mark Tenally (AP)

The Washington Redskins closed a deal in 2014 with China's technology giant Huawei to offer free access to games near the nation's capital after being warned that the company could pose a threat to cybersecurity, Wall Street reported Journal on Wednesday quoting sources close to the issue. .

Although Huawei has long denied reports that its phones or, more importantly, its telecommunications equipment have been co-opted by Chinese intelligence, US national security personnel have been raising red flags on the matter for years (though without publicly disclosing any concrete evidence ). The US and some of its allies have imposed restrictions on Huawei, chiefly on using its hardware for government purposes or building next-generation 5G networks, and have pressured some private companies to do the same.

According to the paper, Michael Wessel, a member of the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, sounded the alarm after Huawei released press releases and tweets commemorating the partnership. Wessel was aware that the FedEx Field suites were commonly visited by federal officials and "triggered an unofficial federal complaint to the Redskins, who quietly tore the deal" – part of a pattern of employees working behind the scenes to limit the scope of what is now the world's second-fastest growing smartphone maker in the world.

The details of a conversation between a Huawei representative and a Redskins employee obtained by the Journal, if true, are more than a little embarrassing. The newspaper wrote that the team offered to share advertising revenue, but did not provide any other money, and came across a bit of desperation, as the controversy over its obviously racist name was increasing:

During negotiations at Redskins headquarters, Huawei representatives were honest about the national security baggage that came with their name, according to a person familiar with the discussions.

"Do you know who we are?" Asked a representative of Huawei, according to the person.

The person said that a representative of the Redskins, who had long resisted criticism for having the name and logo that many consider racist, replied, "Do you know who we are?"

The Redskins told the paper that no one in the franchise remembers this specific discussion, while Huawei did not comment, although news of the cancellation of the agreement appeared in the local right-wing Washington Times in 2014. The deal was eventually targeted at two companies. USA. , Verizon and Cisco.

The lack of publicly known substantive evidence supporting Huawei's allegations is a national security risk that has led to some speculation that attempts to paralyze its growth were the result of political pressure, perhaps motivated in part by US companies distrustful of competition foreign. But the idea of ​​allowing a Chinese company to install Wi-Fi infrastructure in a place frequented by top federal officials has certainly raised a few eyebrows.

"If you look at the people who go to these games, they are some of the most important government officials, many of whom are in the police and the military," said Mathy Vanhoef, a researcher at the New York University safety net at Abu Dhabi. Daily. "This provides a very good and high value goal in a short period of time."

[Wall Street Journal]
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