Roy Tang

Programmer, engineer, scientist, critic, gamer, dreamer, and kid-at-heart.

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In late 2017, the US moved to ban Kaspersky antivirus from use by federal agencies, because of suspected influence from the Russian government.

In late 2018, the US and other countries have either banned or are considering banning the Chinese tech giant Huawei and its telecoms products, for security reasons.

Both companies are under scrutiny for their perceived ties to their governments, both of which happen to have authoritarian leanings. From a certain POV, the bannings may be unfair, as they are "preventive" in nature, i.e. punishment is given preemptively before any offence is discovered.

It's interesting to me because it shows that being under the sway of an authoritarian leadership can be considered a competitive disadvantage in the international marketplace. Trust in the Russian and Chinese governments is low (internationally), which affects the corporations working out of those states. While they may not be doing anything nefarious now, the fact that these states can possibly influence these companies is already a considerable risk, especially for government's mission-critical systems given the geopolitical history and past behavior of those states.

Even here in the Philippines, there is some level of mistrust against the entry of the supposed third telco, which is a consortium of which China Telecom is a part, mainly for security concerns as well.

In theory, this distrust should not be limited to Russia and China. For example, the US also has a history of requesting information from tech companies like Facebook, Google, Twitter, and so on. So in theory these US-based companies should not be trusted with communication platforms, etc. The difference is that the US-based companies have a stronger history of independence from the US government. They also regularly release reports about how the US and other governments request data from them. These are exercises to build trust from the consumer base, to emphasize their independence from any one state authority.

The Kaspersky ban was a relatively small deal, I'm not even sure if it affected Kaspersky at all. But the Huawei (and potentially ZTE as well) ban would be more important as Huawei is a very large telecoms company currently. It will be interesting to see how they move forward - will they take actions to assert their independence from the Chinese state and improve international trust? Or will they double down and have China resort to diplomatic pressure?

Posted by under blog at #current-events #opinions

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Last modified at: Jan. 17, 2021, 4:58 a.m.. Source file