US military base retailers can no longer sell Huawei or ZTE phones

Technology retailers selling to on-base United States military personnel cannot sell phones from Huawei or ZTE anymore.

The Department of Defense’s order was confirmed to The Wall Street Journal by a Pentagon spokesperson who called the devices “an unacceptable risk” to operatives and their mission. Serving members can still own Huawei or ZTE products for personal use, though the agency is mulling over an advisory against the notion.

In February, six of the nation’s top intelligence officials testified at a Congressional subcommittee urging consumers not to buy products from Huawei or ZTE, both Chinese telecommunications companies. Washington insiders have long been worried about the Chinese government’s growing cyber-influence across the world and that modems and phones could compromise the security of the United States’s communications grid. The Trump administration has, at one point, considered nationalizing the upcoming 5G network that carriers are building right now.

With reference to the present risk, a Journal source claims that leaders are concerned that the companies may carve out backdoors to device encryption and allow phones to broadcast location coordinates of soldiers’ phones to Beijing.

The Verge received a statement from Huawei reading in part:

Huawei’s products are sold in 170 countries worldwide and meet the highest standards of security, privacy and engineering in every country we operate globally including the US. We remain committed to openness and transparency in everything we do and want to be clear that no government has ever asked us compromise the security or integrity of any of our networks or devices.

Huawei is under investigation for violating trade sanctions while ZTE is serving a punishment for breaching terms of a settlement stemming from disregarding sanctions.

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Jules Wang
Jules Wang is News Editor for Pocketnow and one of the hosts of the Pocketnow Weekly Podcast. He came onto the team in 2014 as an intern editing and producing videos and the podcast while he was studying journalism at Emerson College. He graduated the year after and entered into his current position at Pocketnow, full-time.