Chinese telecom's Canadian ties raise security fears

A former top U.S. intelligence official is sounding the alarm about a Chinese tech firm’s entrance into the Canadian telecom market. In an interview with CBC, Michelle K. Van Cleave, who was the head of U.S. counter-intelligence under George W. Bush, called Huawei Technologies a “stalking horse” for Chinese military and security designs. The company has been banned from major telecom projects in the U.S. and Australia, but has already inked partnerships with Canadian companies including Telus, Bell, SaskTel and WIND Mobile.

From the CBC:

Van Cleave says the intelligence community fears digital “back doors” could be hidden in the telecommunications networks, allowing spies to steal American and Canadian secrets and ultimately disrupt everything from public utilities to military operations in the event of international conflict.

She says the U.S. government’s actions to prevent Huawei from taking over U.S. telecom companies, or participating in major infrastructure projects, “is the right thing to be doing.”

The Harper government’s own Department of Public Safety warned more than a year ago that Canada’s telecommunications network is too important to be left to foreign companies.

In a secret memo written in 2011 and obtained under the Access to Information Act, a senior public safety official says “the security and intelligence community” believes that throwing open the Canadian telecom market to foreign companies “would pose a considerable risk to public safety and national security.”