American national security is inextricably linked to our digital future. As we see nearly every day, foreign entities, competitors, and adversaries are targeting American networks to gain access to government secrets, economic information, and personal data – and we can only expect it to increase.
The Trump Administration has made it clear that the creation of a secure 5G network through a U.S. national security lens, stating in the administration’s first National Security Strategy document (Dec. 2017): “We will improve America’s digital infrastructure by deploying a secure 5G Internet capability nationwide.”
We couldn't agree more. But the question is “how” — and the time to ask questions is now.
There are real national security and foreign policy implications that should be explored about the proposed merger of Sprint and T-Mobile.
As former George W. Bush White House staffer and current Fox News contributor Bradley Blakeman explained in The Hill newspaper on September 2018:
"Both Sprint and T-Mobile have a long history of using Chinese equipment suppliers Huawei and ZTE for devices integral to providing voice and data service, such as routers, servers, transmitters or receivers. These big suppliers — Huawei had more than $92 billion in revenue last year — have powerful tools at their disposal that could be used against the United States.
As Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and other members of Congress (including House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence members) have warned for years, the Chinese government reportedly has the ability and propensity to compromise U.S. cybersecurity through Huawei and ZTE equipment embedded in our communications networks.”
These attempts to infiltrate U.S. cyber networks continue and must be taken seriously, particularly given a series of Bloomberg Businessweek articles in October 2018, “The Big Hack: How China Used a Tiny Chip to Infiltrate U.S. Companies,” and “New Evidence of Hacked Supermicro Hardware Found in U.S. Telecom,” that show how Chinese government-affiliated technologies appear to be targeting critical U.S. technology and telecommunications companies and infrastructure.
“A major U.S. telecommunications company discovered manipulated hardware from Super Micro Computer Inc. in its network and removed it in August, fresh evidence of tampering in China of critical technology components bound for the U.S., according to a security expert working for the telecom company.”