Feeds

US bill prohibits state use of tech linked to Chinese government

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

High performance access to file storage

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. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Android engineer: We DIDN'T copy Apple OR follow Samsung's orders
Veep testifies for Samsung during Apple patent trial
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Big Content goes after Kim Dotcom
Six studios sling sueballs at dead download destination
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Alphadex fires back at British Gas with overcharging allegation
Brit colo outfit says it paid for 347KVA, has been charged for 1940KVA
Jack the RIPA: Blighty cops ignore law, retain innocents' comms data
Prime minister: Nothing to see here, go about your business
Don't let no-hire pact suit witnesses call Steve Jobs a bullyboy, plead Apple and Google
'Irrelevant' character evidence should be excluded – lawyers
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.