Feeds

US bill prohibits state use of tech linked to Chinese government

Has anyone on Capitol Hill heard of the global supply chain?

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

In one of the first clear signs of a tougher stance on China, a new US spending bill has banned government agencies from buying any technology from companies thought to be “owned, operated or subsidised” by the People’s Republic.

The Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2013, signed by president Obama on Tuesday, only pertains to non-defence government spending up until the end of the fiscal year on 30 September, but could be a sign of things to come.

The key passage, Section 516, prohibits the Commerce and Justice departments, NASA and the National Science Foundation from buying any IT systems “produced, manufactured or assembled” by any organisation which is “owned, operated or subsidised” by Beijing.

The only exceptions are if a piece of technology is deemed to be in the national interest, or if, after consulting the FBI, there is thought to be no risk of “cyber-espionage or sabotage associated with the acquisition of the system”, AP reported.

The rhetoric has certainly been ramping up on the US side since a House of Representatives Intelligence Committee report recommended Shenzhen telecoms kit makers Huawei and ZTE be locked out of the US market because they represent a national security risk.

That was followed with several high profile hacking attacks on US media groups, allegedly traced back to Chinese groups, and then the motherload – the Mandiant report, which detailed a direct link between the PLA and attacks on the New York Times and other US firms.

President Obama himself even went on TV to confirm the US is engaged in “tough talks” with China over state-sponsored attacks.

It’s unclear how much progress can be made in such talks when the official Chinese line is that it doesn’t condone hacking and that it is very often the victim, especially from attacks launched from US servers.

It also may be pretty difficult, given the global nature of the IT supply chain today, for government agencies to follow Section 516 faithfully.

Many if not most US technology companies, for example, have components produced, manufactured or assembled in China or by Chinese firms, so these will all need checking out if these firms are government suppliers.

Huawei said as much in its response to the Committee report:

Almost every ICT firm is conducting R&D, software coding and production activities globally; they share the same supply chain, and the challenges on network security is beyond a company or a country.

The problem then comes in trying to ascertain if said firms are “owned, operated or subsidised” by Beijing.

The House of Representatives Committee reported several times in its findings that it was unable to get the level of information required from Huawei and ZTE to allays its concerns over links to the Chinese government or Communist Party, so it’s unlikely that a US government agency is going to succeed where this detailed 11-month investigation failed. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
MI6 oversight report on Lee Rigby murder: US web giants offer 'safe haven for TERRORISM'
PM urged to 'prioritise issue' after Facebook hindsight find
Assange™ slumps back on Ecuador's sofa after detention appeal binned
Swedish court rules there's 'great risk' WikiLeaker will dodge prosecution
NSA mass spying reform KILLED by US Senators
Democrats needed just TWO more votes to keep alive bill reining in some surveillance
'Internet Freedom Panel' to keep web overlord ICANN out of Russian hands – new proposal
Come back with our internet! cries Republican drawing up bill
What a Mesa: Apple vows to re-use titsup GT sapphire glass plant
Commits to American manufacturing ... of secret tech
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Designing and building an open ITOA architecture
Learn about a new IT data taxonomy defined by the four data sources of IT visibility: wire, machine, agent, and synthetic data sets.
How to determine if cloud backup is right for your servers
Two key factors, technical feasibility and TCO economics, that backup and IT operations managers should consider when assessing cloud backup.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.