The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has broken off its partnerships with Chinese telecoms equipment makers Huawei and ZTE, amidst them facing US federal investigations. MIT follows suite moves by Stanford University, University of California’s flagship Berkeley and the University of Minnesota, who have all cut future research collaborations with Huawei.
Late December, Huawei’s Chief Financial Officer, Wanzhou Meng, who is also the daughter of the company’s founder, was arrested in Canada. Huawei was allegedly involved in violating U.S.’ sanctions on Iran. Huawei was under constant scrutiny by the US government following the ban on ZTE from selling devices with American-made hardware and software. ZTE was also found guilty of violating US sanctions on Iran. Then in January, the U.S. Government officially charged Huawei for stealing T-Mobile’s trade secrets along with bank fraud to violate U.S. sanctions on Iran.
Only a month had passed when Huawei came in the light again for using dirty tactics to steal Apple’s trade secrets. U.S. companies such as Motorola and Cisco Systems have made similar claims against Huawei in civil lawsuits. A Chicago-based company, Akhan Semiconductor even cooperated with a federal investigation into a theft of its intellectual property by Huawei.
Huawei’s power in the mobile telecommunications sector and blatant ignorance of cybersecurity laws is alarming. FBI Director Christopher Wray said the cases “expose Huawei’s brazen and persistent actions to exploit American companies and financial institutions and to threaten the free and fair global marketplace. That kind of access could give a foreign government the capacity to maliciously modify or steal information, conduct undetected espionage, or exert pressure or control.”
In a letter sent to the faculty on Wednesday, Richard Lester, MIT’s associate provost, and Maria Zuber, the school’s vice-president for research, said, “At this time, based on this enhanced review, MIT is not accepting new engagements or renewing existing ones with Huawei and ZTE or their respective subsidiaries due to federal investigations regarding violations of sanction restrictions.”
The letter further stated, “Most recently we have determined that engagements with certain countries – currently China [including Hong Kong], Russia and Saudi Arabia – merit additional faculty and administrative review beyond the usual evaluations that all international projects receive.”
Since Huawei’s ban in the US, the country is trying to prevent its allies from using Huawei technology for critical infrastructure, especially focusing on the five English speaking countries also known as the Five Eyes (US, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Great Britain).
Australia and New Zealand have so far stopped operators from using Huawei equipment in their 5G networks. In the EU however, policymakers have made it a mandate for EU nations to share data on 5G cybersecurity risks and produce measures to tackle them by the end of the year. “The aim is to use tools available under existing security rules plus cross-border cooperation,” the bloc’s executive body said. Now, it is upto individual EU countries to decide whether they want to ban any company on national security grounds.
*** This is a Security Bloggers Network syndicated blog from Security News – Packt Hub authored by Sugandha Lahoti. Read the original post at: https://hub.packtpub.com/elite-us-universities-including-mit-and-stanford-break-off-partnerships-with-huawei-and-zte-amidst-investigations-in-the-us/