The Washington Redskins harassed an agreement with Chinese tech giants Huawei in 2014 to provide free wifi at games near the state capital after it was warned the company could pose a threat for cybersecurity, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday, citing a source familiar with the matter.
While Huawei has long denied the reports that its phones or, more importantly, its telecommunications equipment has co-opted, the Chinese intelligence service and US national security forces have been red flags for years (but without publicizing publicity). The US and some of its allies have imposed restrictions on Huawei, mainly with regard to using its hardware for government purposes or building next-generation 5G networks, and some private companies have been urged to do the same.
Michael Wessel, member of the USCI Economic and Security Review Commission, raised the alarm after Huawei issued press releases and tweets to celebrate the partnership. Wessel was aware that FedEx Field members were frequently visited by federal officials and "unleashed an unofficial federal complaint to the Redskins who had quietly torn the deal" – part of a sample of officials working behind the scenes to defeat the deal Limiting scope today is the second largest and fastest growing smartphone maker in the world.
Details of a conversation between a Huawei representative and a Redskins official who received the journal are, if true, more than a little embarrassing. The newspaper said the team had offered to share advertising revenue but did not provide any other money, and seemed a bit desperate as the controversy over its obviously racist name increased:
During the negotiations, Redskins' headquarters were the representatives of Huawei in advance of the national state – security baggage, according to his name, according to a person who was familiar with the discussions.
"Do you know who we are?" A representative of Huawei asked, according to the person.
The person said a Redskins representative, who has long held criticism of a name and logo that many consider racist, responded, "Do you know who we are?"
The Redskins told the magazine that nobody in the franchise remembers this specific discussion Huawei did not comment on it, even though the news about the cancellation of the deal appeared in the 2014 right-wing Washington Times. The deal eventually went to two US companies, Verizon and Cisco
The lack of publicly-known substantive evidence supporting allegations is a national security risk that has led to some speculation that attempts to stop its growth are political Which may have been partly caused by US companies shying away from foreign competition. But the idea of allowing a Chinese company to set up a wireless infrastructure in a high-level staffed location certainly raised some eyebrows.
"If you look at the people who go to these games, they're among the most senior government officials, many of them in law enforcement and military," said New York University network researcher in Abu Dhabi, Mathy Vanhoef. "That's a pretty good, valuable goal over a short period of time."
[Wall Street Journal]