October 06, 2015

Safe Harbor, Jurisdiction, Parallel Construction and Pirate Radio

In response (in part) to the Snowden Revelations having undone trust in U.S. companies’ ability to ensure data integrity, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) today invalidated a 15-year-old data privacy pact that allowed U.S. businesses to “legally” transfer EU citizen data across the Atlantic, 

The EU's Charter of Fundamental Rights guarantees the protection of personal data.  In that context, until today, under the so-called “Safe Harbor” agreement, more than 4,000 U.S. companies “self-certified” that they met EU privacy protection laws, thus qualifying them to handle EU data. 

As of today, however, the ECJ rendered Safe Harbor invalid, due to, among other things, America’s global approach to digital surveillance and data collection, as well as the lack of adequate privacy protections in the U.S.

Meanwhile, related, the two-year-old Department of Justice (DOJ) case against Microsoft for refusing to surrender an individual’s data stored on a server at a Microsoft center in Ireland continues to wind its way through the U.S. legal system, with the Supreme Court the likely ultimate arbiter.

At issue: The personal emails of an individual suspected by U.S. authorities in a narcotics case. 

DOJ contends that emails should be treated as the business records of the company hosting them and that a search warrant should compel access to them no matter where they are stored.  

Microsoft argues that the emails are the customers’ personal documents and a U.S. warrant does not carry the authority needed in Ireland - or any foreign jurisdiction - to compel the company to surrender the data.

The Irish government, for its part, maintains that data should only be disclosed on request to the Irish government pursuant to the long standing mutual legal assistance treaty between the U.S. and Ireland.

The case would seem to be a pretty clear no-win all around:

If Microsoft prevails, the global trend towards data localization requirements will almost certainly be accelerated, at the very least undermining the efficiencies of the Cloud, at the very worst Balkanizing the Internet altogether – neither outcome being in anyone’s best interests.

If DOJ carries the day, what little trust may linger in U.S. information service providers will vanish, severely impacting their overseas business prospects and, at the same time, hindering U.S. authorities engaged in legitimate surveillance and data gathering, all the while further setting the precedent for governments worldwide to demand access to data stored in the U.S.

But it’s worse than that.

However the case may ultimately be resolved, uncertainty will reign, piled on top of the chaos echoing in the wake of today’s ECJ Safe Harbor decision, which has left thousands of companies scrambling to sustain businesses and striving for “compliance” with any number of regimes.

Worse yet, governments will not pause their surveillance and data collection.  Indeed, two years of Snowden Revelations might suggest (to some) that the U.S. never really gave a fig about privacy anyway (other governments have yet to be as effectively outed, but are equally suspect).

In that context, whichever way the Microsoft case goes, the U.S. authorities who brought the case will be yet more hindered in the future in terms of “legal” access to the information they desire.  So, they will do what they have already been doing: They will access the data they want in whatever manner they deem necessary.

Meanwhile, in the law enforcement realm, such illicit gathering of information may lead to the institutionalization of the process of “parallel construction,” a method by which the U.S. “exclusionary rule” which protects those accused can be circumvented to allow illegally gathered evidence to be admissible in court, severely undermining the rule of law.

(Parallel construction is already – reportedly - a popular DEA strategy: link)

At the same time, business and criminal enterprises alike may find themselves considering “Pirate Radio”-like data center services, with server banks housed “offshore” (literally or figuratively) in terms of being subject to no-one’s law enforcement or other jurisdiction, potentially threatening the rule of law (but also possibly fostering unique new business opportunities).

Clearly, while concerns related to the confluent conundrums of the Microsoft case and the Safe Harbor collapse are beyond multi-fold, the complexity of the matters involved dictate that there will also be no easy solutions.

So, what next?

Fitful and frustrating global conversations about very complex concepts - ranging from the definition of jurisdiction in a transnational world, to the harmonization of data protection and data compulsion policies, to balancing personal privacy and national security, and beyond.

The goal?

De-conflicting inconsistent data-related (and other) laws and rules across the globe to allow for fair and open and trusted market access to facilitate continued global growth and prosperity in what is an increasingly-digital and borderless world.

How hard can that be?

October 05, 2015

Summit Dust Settled; When's the Next Dust-up?

With the Obama-Xi Summit a comfortable week behind us, it seems timely to dig into some of the rhetoric, particularly in the areas of cyber and national security - matters of critical importance to the global and interdependent information and communications technology (ICT) industry.

Indeed, putting an exclamation point on that critical importance, it is worth noting, that a month in advance of the Summit, on August 11, nineteen major U.S. industry and ICT trade associations wrote to President Obama seeking his strong engagement with President Xi to address growing barriers to ICT trade, and, while not specifically called out, not just in China (link to letter).

The letter appealed (very slightly edited for length):

·         The U.S. and China should reaffirm their commitment to open markets, particularly in the ICT sector, recognizing the significant benefits that both countries enjoy from integration into global ICT industry value chains.

·         The U.S. and China should confirm…that in pursuing measures to protect national security, they should ensure that measures affecting the ICT sector are: (i) necessary to advance a legitimate security objective; (ii) narrowly-tailored to achieve that objective; (iii) the least restrictive of open trade and competition as possible. In particular, both sides should commit to refrain from embedding in their national security laws, regulations, and policies specific requirements related to economic security that are designed to advance policies that distort markets and restrict open competition.

·         The U.S. and China should agree, at the highest levels of government, to ensure that an ongoing high-level consultation mechanism exists and is dedicated to minimize any disruption to mutually-beneficial global ICT trade through the achievement of these goals.

Ah, cyber-motherhood and digital-apple pie.  Good stuff.

And, thankfully – and rather impressively – the two Presidents ponied up, at least rhetorically.

Key takeaways from the Summit in terms of ICT:  Both sides agreed...

·         They would not “conduct or knowingly support” cyber and non-cyber-related theft of intellectual property in order to favor individual companies or sectors. 

·         They would provide timely responses to requests for information and assistance in addressing cyber-related incidents, and, to facilitate this, they would launch a high-level semi-annual dialogue on fighting cybercrime involving key law enforcement and security agencies on both sides.

·         They would work together to identify and promote international norms for government behavior in cyberspace and pledged to establish a senior experts group to discuss these issues further.

·         They would limit the scope of national security reviews, and to refrain from restricting investment/business on the basis of economic or public interest concerns.

Bravo.  (Polite golf applause).

It will come as a surprise to virtually no-one that the joint announcement was met with a bit of skepticism. 

An illustrative example of such sentiment (and by no means am I criticizing any one person or publication in particular), would be the September 25, 2015 article in the Hill, titled “Time for Constructive Confrontation with China” (linked).

The article, which bemoans China’s State-mercantilist approach to world trade, particularly in the IP-intensive ICT industry, and critiques the U.S. for its milquetoast engagement on such concerns, among other things states, in sum:

“In a properly functioning global trading system, countries are supposed to focus on innovating to differentiate themselves in fields where they have comparative advantages, and then trade for things that other countries are better at producing…The United States cannot wait for China's ruling officials to wake up to the error of their ways, however. It must forcefully push back… The strategy should be to put less emphasis on legalistic engagement and more on achieving tangible results…”

Damned straight.  Spot on.  100% non-objectionable.

But let’s be sure to make it a two-way process. 

Indeed, and specifically borrowing from the September 2015 Obama-Xi commitment to refrain from restricting investment/business on the basis of economic or public interest concerns, as well as the U.S. industry associations' plea for both sides to “refrain from…policies that distort markets and restrict open competition,” let's consider a case in point:

On June 1, 2015, the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center’s National Coordinating Center for Communications (quite a mouthful), overseen by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), distributed - across the U.S. ICT industry - an amateurish FBI document slandering China-based Huawei Technologies (my employer, as regular readers will recall).

The aptly-named FBI “SPIN” (“Strategic Partnership Intelligence Note”) document, dated February 2015, which regurgitates four pages of beyond-tired and oft-disproven misinformation, can be accessed here

This document, prepared by the FBI and broadly circulated by DHS, is very clearly a U.S. Government initiative to very much restrict (effectively "ice") investment/business on so-called “national security” grounds.  This fact-challenged document – its genesis, approval and dissemination – very obviously reflects a policy that very much “distorts markets and restricts open competition.”

Yes, China should be held to its commitments, and perhaps most efficiently in the context of “constructive confrontation.” 

But, so too must a light be shined on the market-distorting, trade-restricting and – very worrisome – precedent-setting policies of the U.S. Government.

Neither side should expect to have its cake and eat it too.  Any myopic attempt by either side to do so will only result in neither side delivering on their promises, preserving a status quo that is in no-one's best interest.

September 13, 2015

Challenging Cheney's "Exceptionalism" Op-ed

An August 28, 2015 Wall Street Journal commentary by former Vice President Cheney popped up in my Facebook feed today, titled “Restoring American Exceptionalism.” 

Citing select truths, while plucking patriotic heartstrings, the Vice President argues forcefully against the recent multilateral (U.S., UK, Germany, France, Russia, China) accord with Iran that will end decades of economic sanctions against that country in exchange for restrictions on its nuclear program. 

Cheney criticizes and labels President Obama as a latter-day Neville Chamberlain, utterly ignoring that the unstable environment in which the President is compelled to operate is the direct result of the duplicitous and failed policies in large part architected by himself.

But first, in fairness, let’s acknowledge the select truths from the Cheney op-ed:

·         “America has guaranteed freedom, security and peace for a larger share of humanity than any other nation in all of history.”

·         “In the 1940s American leadership was essential to victory in World War II, and the liberation of millions from the grip of fascism. In the Cold War American leadership guaranteed the survival of freedom, the liberation of Eastern Europe and the defeat of Soviet totalitarianism.”

·         “For the better part of a century, security and freedom for millions of people around the globe have depended on America’s military, economic, political and diplomatic might.”

·         “As citizens, we have another obligation. We have a duty to protect our ideals and our freedoms by safeguarding our history. We must ensure that our children know the truth about who we are, what we’ve done…”

The Vice President is disingenuous in his promotion of that final truth.  He ignores the truths of what his Administration did to our country: Waging meaningless wars, sacrificing thousands of young people to false causes, leaving hundreds of thousands more maimed, our economy weakened, our surplus drained, our national reputation and credibility badly tarnished.

For instance, in proclaiming that the President “has abandoned Iraq, leaving a vacuum that is being tragically and ominously filled by our enemies,” he declines to acknowledge that the devastation and lawlessness that defines Iraq today is the direct result of a groundless – senseless - war that he himself engineered. 

Cheney’s war fundamentally demolished whatever shaky stability existed in the region at the time, facilitating the rising threats of Iran and Isis, and, we should not forget, obscenely bolstering his own personal wealth.

The Cheney op-ed goes on to make repeated references to the American “supremacy” that defined the bi-polar world that existed before the fall of the Soviet Union, steadfastly ignoring the multi-polar world that emerged in its wake, driven, in part, by the years of American-won (relative) peace and prosperity during the succeeding decade defined by the U.S.-led global Internet boom.

Instead, clinging desperately to yesterday’s concept of American exceptionalism, Cheney rejects the fundamental geopolitical realities inherent in a multi-polar world, demanding that America somehow re-birth Cold War preeminence, cramming yesterday’s two-dimensional square peg exceptionalism into today’s far more complex multi-dimensional round hole.

In this context, he blasts Obama:

“…despite the explosive spread of terrorist ideology and organizations, the establishment of an Islamic State caliphate in the heart of the Middle East, the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and increasing threats from Iran, China, North Korea and Russia, President Obama has departed from this 75-year, largely bipartisan tradition of ensuring America’s pre-eminence and strength.”


President Obama, in the context of the severe damage done to America’s reputation and prestige over the eight years of Bush-Cheney rule, has been working to re-establish America as a credible partner – an exceptional nation in a multi-polar world in which exceptionalism is not confined to our fifty States.

Indeed, Cheney is actually spot on when he writes:

“ As America faces a world of rising security threats, we must resolve to take action and shouldn’t lose hope. Just as one president has left a path of destruction in his wake, one president can rescue us. The right person in the Oval Office can restore America’s strength and alliances, defeat our enemies, and keep us safe. It won’t be easy. There is a path forward, but there are difficult decisions to be made and very little time.”

This is what Obama has been charged with for the last seven years.  And, to some limited extent, he has achieved success.  America is indeed an exceptional nation, but, in a multi-polar world, we must accept and work with peers on the global stage.

Like the former Vice President, I hope that whichever candidate prevails in 2016 can pick up and carry this standard further forward.  Borrowing again from Mr. Cheney, this will be best and perhaps only accomplished if, unlike the Vice President, we “ensure that our children know the truth about who we are, what we’ve done…

July 16, 2015

4.5G (Already?): A Contextual Primer

The first generation of mobility was defined by analog voice technology as commercialized in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, liberating voice communications, initially for the use of primarily business, government and high net-worth individuals.

The second generation of mobility, leveraging new digital radio technologies, enhanced the quality of the wireless voice experience, and introduced rudimentary messaging (SMS) capabilities.  “2G” paved the way for the democratization of mobility in the mid-1990’s.

Transitional 2.5G technologies, such as GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) and the wireless application protocol (WAP) platform, were introduced at the turn of the Millennium, complementing digital voice with early mobile data, laying the groundwork for the blossoming mobile Internet experience.

Third generation mobility, so-called 3G, un-tethered the Internet in the mid-2000’s, introducing richer and faster wireless multimedia functions and services - corporate and social - heralding the evolution of the mobile phone into a mobile companion: truly handheld multimedia computers.

Evolutionary technologies like HSPA (high speed packet access) expanded on 3G.  Faster networks and more through-put were naturally complemented by richer devices: faster processing, more memory, “real” cameras, location-based services, etc., enabling new business and lifestyle opportunities.

The advent of Long Term Evolution (LTE), or 4G, networks around the turn of the decade marked the realization of truly mobile Internet experiences, as envisioned at the outset of 3G, delivering what was once a fully-featured desktop-defined online experience to everyday pockets and palms.

The now emerging Internet of Things (IoT) – tens of billions of connections - will demand far more from networks, fixed and mobile alike, and with 5G technologies on a development path for realization in the early 2020’s, 4.5G technologies are being developed to meet those rapidly-developing needs.

HD video, virtual reality (gaming, shopping), distance-solutions (health, education), connected cars, wearables, and real-time-application automation, remote control and machine-to-machine interaction will be a boon to consumers and businesses alike, enabling enhanced lifestyles and productivity.

4.5G technologies under development and to-be-deployed as early as 2016 are designed for managing massive numbers of connections, all-new peak capacity, deeper and more ubiquitous coverage, all-important service continuity and lower latency, the latter essential to automation and remote control.

By 2025, it is anticipated that there will be as many as 100 billion connections reliant on wireless networks – just imagine the demands of a single smart city in enhancing quality and performance of urban services, reducing costs and resource consumption, engaging effectively and actively with citizens.

5G technologies are under development to meet such yet further network demands, as early as the turn of the next decade.  In the interim, emerging 4.5G solutions will serve to bridge between current 4G networks and future 5G systems, ensuring an innovative and smooth evolutionary process.

June 26, 2015

Meanwhile, at the U.S.-China S&ED...

This week, from June 22-24, senior Government officials from the U.S. and China met in Washington for the seventh round of the “U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED).”

The breadth of the topics covered borders on mind-numbing. 

As for the depth, well, they had a healthy 72 hours to cover everything from military relations to anticorruption; from law enforcement to disability rights; from counter-terrorism to humanitarian assistance; from disaster response to maritime matters; from illicit nuclear and wildlife transfers to climate change, energy, the environment and all things green; from Ebola to satellite collision avoidance; from earthquake and volcano studies to Korea, Afghanistan, Sudan, Iran, Syria and Iraq.

Thankfully, they also found some time to chat about commerce and trade-related matters, which took place within the so-called “Economic Track” of the Dialogue, led, on the U.S. side, by the Treasury Department. 

Yesterday, Treasury put out a fact sheet detailing the outcomes (link: http://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/jl0094.aspx). 

Let’s peek at a highlight or two.

With respect to China’s recently introduced and worrisome information and communications technology (ICT) regs in the banking sector (previously blogged about, as linked here), Treasury reported that “China committed to ensure that such bank ICT regulations will be nondiscriminatory, are not to impose nationally-based requirements, and are to be developed in a transparent manner

Further, per Treasury, “China committed to enhance policy transparency in its governance of the ICT sector, including providing opportunities for comment on draft regulations.”

And, on a related matter, specifically so-called “national security reviews,” Treasury’s Fact Sheet offered that “we stressed our strong concerns that China’s national security review is too broad in scope, considers numerous issues that go well beyond genuine national security concerns and expressly affords third parties an inappropriate role in the review process.”


One can only hope that some Ministry in China will issue its own Fact Sheet confirming that the U.S. too has committed to undo its blatantly discriminatory barriers to select foreign-based ICT vendors, to reform and make more transparent its absurdly opaque development and implementation of such policies, as well as its willy-nilly use of “national security” to stymie market access and investment.

May 19, 2015

Borscht, 北京烤鸭, and Apple Pie

Back in September, 2011, I blogged on a joint Chinese-Russian proposal of a voluntary International Code of Conduct for Information Security, as debuted at the 66th session of the UN General Assembly (http://www.williambplummer.com/2011/09/china-russia-et-al-propose-un-cyber.html). 

Key provisions of the 2011 joint cyber proposal – which seemingly fell on relatively deaf UN ears – included commitments:

- Not to use ICTs including networks to carry out hostile activities or acts of aggression and pose threats to international peace and security;

- Not to proliferate information weapons and related technologies;

- To endeavor to ensure the supply chain security of ICT products and services, prevent other states from using their resources, critical infrastructures, core technologies and other advantages, to undermine the right of the countries...or to threaten other countries' political, economic and social security.

- To lead all elements of society, including its information and communication private sectors, to understand their roles and responsibilities with regard to information security, in order to facilitate the creation of a culture of information security and the protection of critical information infrastructures.

As I said at the time, good stuff.

Flash forward three-and-a-half years to earlier this month when the two governments formalized their cyber-alignment with a bilateral agreement (http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2015/05/08/russia-china-pledge-to-not-hack-each-other/?mod=rss_Technology).

According to the agreement between the two States, in terms of general principles of cooperation: The Parties shall cooperate in the field of international information security in such a way that such cooperation contributes to economic and social development, consistent with the objectives and maintenance of international peace, security and stability, and consistent with generally recognized principles and norms of international law, including the principles of peaceful settlement of disputes and conflicts, non-use or threat of force, non-interference in internal affairs, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the principles of bilateral cooperation and non-interference.

(I know, I know…  This is Russia and China we’re talking about.  But, let’s remember that human rights and fundamental freedoms are under increasing assault in countries like the U.S. as well).

The main cyber threats identified in the accord include “the use of Information and communication technologies:

1) To carry out acts of aggression aimed at violating sovereignty, security and territorial integrity of States and which pose a threat to international peace, security and strategic stability;

2) To cause economic and other damage, including by providing a destructive impact on the facilities of information infrastructure;

3) For terrorist purposes, including for the promotion of terrorism and engaging in terrorist activities;

4) To commit offenses and crimes, including related to unauthorized access to computer data;

5) To interfere in the internal affairs of states, to spread public disorder, incite ethnic and racial strife, to spread racist and xenophobic propaganda and theories that give rise to hatred and discrimination, to violence and instability, as well as to destabilize the political and socio-economic situation; and

6) For the dissemination of information prejudicial to political and socio-economic systems, or the spiritual, moral and cultural environment of other States.”

While, as pithily demonstrated by threats 5 and 6, the bilateral agreement is perhaps overly-focused on regime stability, there are elements that other governments might consider multi-lateralizing.

To wit: In addition to the commitment to not conduct cyber-attacks against each other, the Parties agreed to cooperate towards ensuring international information security in multiple ways, including:

- The establishment of communication channels and contacts for sharing responses to threats in the sphere of international information security;

- Cooperation in developing and promoting standards and international law in order to ensure national and international information security;

- The exchange of information and cooperation between law enforcement authorities in order to investigate cases involving the use of information and communication technologies for terrorist and criminal purposes;

- To enhance cooperation and coordination between the Parties on issues of international information security within the framework of international organizations and forums.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Government on May 14 (two weeks after the China-Russia Accord was unveiled) reminded the world of its proposed “cyber norms” via State Department testimony before a Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee (http://fcw.com/articles/2015/05/18/state-cyber-norms.aspx).

The norms - which the U.S. Administration is reportedly pushing to have adopted by the UN - in brief, would dictate that Nation-states:

- Should not conduct online activity that intentionally harms critical infrastructure;

- Should not prevent national computer emergency teams from responding to cyber incidents;

- Should not conduct cyber-enabled intellectual property theft; and

- Should cooperate with international investigations of cybercrimes.

No doubt, the U.S. version is shorter, clearer, more definitive, and, largely, proscriptive – the latter which is not a bad thing, per se.

Nor, however, are the Chinese-Russian provisions for forward-looking and cooperative and international initiatives to establish global standards, norms and laws (concepts – cyber or otherwise - that the U.S. has historically supported).

Opportunity, it would seem, may be knocking.

Perhaps these complementary approaches might be considered together at the next meeting of the UN's "Governmental Experts on Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security" (quite a mouthful, I know, but it's gotta start somewhere).

March 24, 2015

When Worlds Align in Surprising Ways...

Wildly separated by nationalities, cultures, races, generations, history, personal experiences, and more, people share certain common human emotions that unite them, such as those associated with life's diverse paths from aspiration, through struggle, to achievement and excellence.

Earlier this year, my employer Huawei Technologies launched a global corporate marketing campaign centered around a striking image from famed photographer and ballet enthusiast Henry Leutwyler.  That image, featured immediately below, is both emotion- and thought-provoking.
The Huawei ad leveraging this image was the brainchild of the company’s 70-year-old Founder and CEO, Ren Zhengfei, who saw in this image a reflection of the history of the company that he founded in 1987: Aspiration, struggle, pain, hard work, harder work, achievement, and the sublime satisfaction (joy) of delivering excellence to an audience (customers).

The result:
When the ad debuted internally in January, there were a number of Huawei employees who initially reacted with some concern.  The image, after all, is truly striking.  Graphic.

But, however you may initially perceive the image, it makes you stop.  Think.  Imagine. Perhaps contemplate the challenges and rewards of any journey, whether artistic, corporate, or personal.

External reactions ranged from thoughtful reviews by marketing professionals – for instance, AdAge’s February 4 piece titled “What a Ballerina's Beat-Up Feet Have to Do With A Chinese Tech Brand” – to not-unexpected tweets from everyday folk who were, for whatever reasons, disturbed by the image, e.g. "I don't know what @Huawei does/sells, but I do know that their ads freak me out. Plz stop showing me wrecked ballerina feet. #marketingfail."

Now, flash forward a month-and-change to late March…

What do a 70-year-old Chinese entrepreneur-CEO and a 34-year-old American hip hop/R&B star have in common?

An understanding, it would seem, of the physical, psychological and emotional path from aspiration, through struggle, to achievement and excellence.

Below is a meme posted on March 21 on the Facebook page of Grammy-nominee and platinum recording artist Keyshia Cole:
The Huawei and Keyshia messages are perhaps as distinct as they are alike, but the underlying emotions are clearly aligned.

In this context, some food for thought: 

In a world in which we too often find elements of our lives defined in the context of one or another “us” vs. some other “them,” we should perhaps reflect on unique, quirky - quite remarkable, actually – instances like this one in which the commonality of the human experience and human interpretation and emotion are so classically depicted.

What do a 70-year-old Chinese entrepreneur-CEO and a 34-year-old American hip hop/R&B star have in common?

They are both human beings, each uniquely gifted, each with emotions, aspirations, struggles, achievements, and, at the core of their life journeys, a common desire to experience and share joy.

February 16, 2015

Firmware Hijacked, No-one Safe… By and From the U.S. - Are we really surprised?

The New York Times reported February 16, in an article titled “U.S. Embedded Spyware Overseas” (link), that Russia’s renowned and respected Kaspersky Lab has unveiled that the U.S. “Equation Group” (AKA, apparently, the NSA and DoD’s U.S. Cyber Command) have – for more than 10 years – hidden malware and spyware deep within hard drives made by Western Digital, Seagate, Toshiba and other top manufacturers.

Doing this has given the U.S. the means to eavesdrop on the majority of the world's computers, according to Kaspersky, other cyber researchers and, reportedly, former U.S. operatives.

Surprised?  You shouldn’t be.  This pot’s been calling kettles black for so long you’d have to be idiot-thick not to figure out that they were over-compensating to veil their own transgressions.

So what now, now that we have relative certainty that the entire planet’s been compromised by U.S. intelligence agencies?  And, perhaps worse, they’ve been doing so in the context of accusing pretty much any and every other (other?) “bad guy” of doing the same thing while purporting to be holier than all those other “thou’s.”

But wait, the U.S. only conducts espionage to ensure our national security, not, for instance, to gather and store data on its own citizens or, ahem, to gain commercial benefit for American companies.


I'll leave the former be for now, but as for the latter, while there’s no evidence - yet - to believe the U.S. has stolen intellectual property from foreign firms with the express purpose of transferring such knowledge to domestic firms, that’s – perhaps - only because the need has not yet been perceived. 

But have American intelligence agencies eavesdropped on others to leverage benefits for American companies, for instance, in terms of intelligence related to the negotiation of trade agreements, etc.? 

Well, yeah.  Duh.  And, that, yes, confers commercial advantage.

Hey, I’m an American.  I get it.  I understand.  Indeed, I don’t oppose it, per se. 

What I oppose is the utter hypocrisy of painting other kettles blacker than our pots.

Look, national governments are national governments, and spies will be spies - humankind has conducted espionage on its neighbors since the first caveperson leaned out to peer into the neighboring hole to see how the “other side” were making their fires.  So let’s be intellectually honest about the whole thing.

So, before we let this latest revelation escalate us towards yet more techno-nationalist (nonsensical) market access barriers in one or another country, consider the below instead.  After all, none of this is sustainable - we are risking our future, a future largely and increasingly dependent on the global and interdependent information economy. 

Manifesto for a post-Cyber Future


- Our societies, businesses and personal lives have become ever more reliant on the Internet and connectivity, on a global and interdependent basis; 

- The development of networks has helped to advance social progress. Open networks have encouraged information flow and sharing, provided more opportunities for and lowered the cost of innovation, and have helped improve the world's health, wealth and prosperity.

- Today’s interconnected world is powered by global, intertwined infrastructures built on technologies provided by a wide range of information and communications technology (ICT) vendors sourcing inputs from a vast global supplier ecosystem, enabling networks that span multiple markets;

- This complex, intertwined ecosystem is potentially vulnerable to those that wish to use technology for purposes it was never intended, to steal, corrupt, damage or disable.

- In this context, the integrity of networks and data are essential to our societal and personal well-being, and that integrity is increasingly threatened;

- Maintaining or restoring confidence in network and data security is critically necessary to maintaining and enhancing the global digital economy and our day-to-day lives as individuals;

- Governments have a responsibility to secure the networks their citizens use, and to ensure the integrity of the data within such networks, as well as legitimate law enforcement and national security obligations;

- No longer is technology designed, developed and deployed only in one country; no longer can any country or large company claim to rely on a single sourcing model;

- Physical and digital supply chains fueling the information and communications technology industry eclipse borders;

- Geography-based or otherwise “techno-nationalist” approaches to securing networks and data are inconsistent with commercial and technological realities in what has become a global and interdependent information age;

- Network security and data integrity are not single country or company issues, they are functions of how ICT products are made, used, and maintained, not by whom or where they are made, or by the relationship any vendor may have with any particular government;

- Geographic-based restrictions in any form risk both retaliation, replication and the fragmentation of global ICT supply chains, as well as undermining the advancement of global best practices and standards on network security and data integrity;

- States should seek to agree appropriate conventions among themselves governing acceptable behavior in cyberspace, while refraining from hyperbolic rhetoric and market-distorting policies, laws, regulations and practices in the name of “cyber” or national security;

- Governments should offer additional clarity and transparency in terms of their mandates, regulations and practices related to data monitoring, collection, processing and storage;

- Industry should accelerate initiatives to defining certifiable standards, disciplines and best practices for network security and data integrity; from product conception through research and development; from coding to sourcing; from assembly to shipment; from deployment to servicing to end-of-life.

- Public-private partnerships should cement the results, codified as appropriate, whether through international covenants or global industry standards bodies.

January 30, 2015

Pots and Kettles, Take 2: As Ye Cyber-Sow…

Four years ago this week I posted a piece on the remarkably hyperbolic hypocrisy of Western governments' condemnation of Chinese export financing, titled “Export Financing: Pots and Kettles” (linked).  A New York Times article two days ago (linked), which reported on a letter from a group of U.S. industry groups to the Chinese Government decrying new “discriminatory” Chinese cyber regulations, prompted me to return to the pots and kettles analogy, albeit in a different context.

The joint-associations’ letter calls for “urgent discussion and dialogue regarding the growing trend of Chinese government policies requiring use of ‘secure and controllable’ or Chinese-developed and/or controlled Internet and information communications technology (ICT) products, solutions, and services based on ‘cybersecurity’ justifications. Internet and ICT.”

The letter, specifically referring to a 22-page regulation approved by the Chinese Government late last year, outlines a number of the offending Chinese “secure and controllable” initiatives: “ICT products and services must undergo intrusive security testing, contain indigenous Chinese intellectual property (IP) (e.g., local encryption algorithms), comply with Chinese national standards, and restrict the flow of cross-border commercial data. The same policies also mandate that vendors file sensitive IP, such as source code, with the Chinese government.”

With repeated reference to the inherently global nature of the ICT industry, the letter makes very solid points, such as: “It is in the interest of the global ICT industry to work with all countries to ensure that the ICT supply chain produces secure and trustworthy products for all our customers around the world.” 

Further, the letter informs: “Sovereign interest in a secure and development-friendly cyber economy is best served, in any country, by policies that encourage competition and customer choice, both of which necessitate openness to nonindigenous technologies, as well as close collaboration between industry and government in formal and informal public-private partnerships and other mechanisms.

Spot. On.

Finally, the letter concludes, reiterating the call for a dialogue “to discuss constructive, alternative approaches toward the goal of enhanced security,” and then hammering home: “…it is of critical importance that policies be developed in a transparent and open manner with adequate public consultation; not interfere with the procurement activity of commercial entities; not discriminate or provide questionable subsidies to domestic products; and not create technical barriers to trade that are more trade restrictive than necessary.”

Damned straight.

Notably, these are not new anti-discriminatory positions for these U.S. trade groups, nor are they limited to China, indeed, they’ve been staked out quite forcefully and on multiple occasions in terms of U.S. development of similarly discriminatory policies masquerading as “cyber-security” initiatives.

In April, 2013, many of the same signatories to the recent joint association letter to the Chinese Government signed on to a letter to the leadership of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives objecting to a provision included in Appropriations legislation which was later signed into law by the President.  That provision bars select Federal Agencies from acquiring information technology (IT) systems unless ‘the head of the entity, in consultation with the Federal Bureau of Investigation or other appropriate Federal entity’ has made a risk assessment of potential “cyber-espionage or sabotage...associated with such system being produced, manufactured or assembled by one or more entities that are owned, directed or subsidized by the People’s Republic of China.”   

The aligned industry groups warned that the provision set a troubling and counterproductive precedent that could have significant international repercussions and put U.S.-based global IT companies at a competitive disadvantage in global markets.

Further, and very, very straight to the essential point, the associations wrote: Fundamentally, product security is a function of how a product is made, used, and maintained, not by whom or where it is made. Geographic-based restrictions run the risk of creating a false sense of security when it comes to advancing our national cybersecurity interests. At a time when greater global cooperation and collaboration is essential to improve cybersecurity, geographic-based restrictions in any form risk undermining the advancement of global best practices and standards on cybersecurity.

Yet further, the April, 2013 letter to Congressional leadership warned – presciently – that the provision could fuel potential retaliation, stating, specifically: “The Chinese government may choose to retaliate against U.S.-based IT vendors by enacting a similar policy for screening IT system purchases in China.”  More generally, the letter worried further about copycat legislation: “Governments in other countries may seek to emulate this policy, harming U.S. IT vendors who wish to sell in those markets. Similar policies are already being pursued by some foreign governments. We are concerned this provision would severely undermine the U.S. government’s efforts to contain these policies.”

Finally, the letter concluded reminding the recipients that “the global IT sector is committed to working with Congress and the Administration to consider constructive approaches that avoid geographic-based restrictions and focus instead on the appropriate and effective methods to meet our cybersecurity challenges. In the near term, we strongly encourage a meaningful bilateral dialogue between the United States and China to address cybersecurity concerns in a manner consistent with best security and trade practices.”

Great stuff (which you hear echoed in the more recent letter to Chinese authorities, excepting the bits about retaliation and copycatting, for, well, the obvious reasons…).

Then in July, 2013, TechAmerica, a signatory of both the April, 2013 letter and the more recent letter to Chinese authorities, wrote to the leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee reiterating opposition to the renewal of the offending Appropriations legislation provision

TechAmerica labeled the proposed legislation “problematic at best” and, indeed, “counterproductive,” in that it would hinder “the ability of these departments and agencies to obtain world-class, state-of-the-art technology innovation and services in a timely fashion while essentially undermining the ability of U.S. based ICT firms to conduct international trade and commerce on a level playing field by facing similar retaliatory localization measures by other foreign governments in markets critical to the U.S. commercial sector.”

Then, in September, 2014, the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI), a signatory to both the April, 2013 letter and the more recent joint industry missive to China, wrote to the Senate and House Armed Services Committees objecting to a Defense Authorization provision that require U.S. intelligence agencies to advise the Congress of every instance in which an ICT component from a company “suspected of being influenced by a foreign country, or a suspected affiliate of such a company” is competing for or has been awarded a contract related to a DoD or Intelligence network or “networks of network operators supporting systems in proximity…” 

Per the ITI letter, “in short, we fear the language in Section 1083 will not help the government achieve its security objectives and could have several unintended economic and security consequences.”  ITI went into great detail defining faults in the provision, under the following headings:  “The language is ambiguous and many terms are not defined.”  “Standing alone, a company’s activity in, or relationship with, a foreign country may not be dispositive as to whether its products or services are secure.”  “There is strong potential for global backlash on U.S. ICT companies.”

In November, 2014, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group (not a signatory to any of the previous letters, but with some overlapping membership) also wrote to the leadership of the Senate and House Armed Services Committees, worried about the same provision that ITI targeted, sagely borrowing and extending language from the April 2013 letter detailed above: “Product security is a function of how a product is made, used, and maintained, not by whom or where it is made, or by the relationship a vendor has with any particular government. Geographic restrictions are not helpful to improving cybersecurity and at worst could in fact preclude an organization from procuring the best or most appropriate technologies for their mission.” 

Like in previous letters from other signatories, SVLG also expressed concern for copycat initiatives: “…this approach invites retaliation against U.S. companies in global markets. Governments around the world closely watch U.S. policies, and a U.S. law (or even proposal) that would discriminate against a vendor based on its relationship with a foreign country (or government) could embolden other governments to enact similar restrictions as  a condition of sale into their own markets.”

Are the new Chinese regulations copycat?  Yes.  Well, in many or most ways, with a couple of exceptions... 

First off, the Chinese regulations are also (one might imagine, at least) a partial response to the abysmal treatment that major China-based ICTs have experienced in the U.S., such treatment defined by vague, opaque, “unwritten” policies that have served as quite effective market access barriers.  

Secondly, the Chinese provisions are reportedly quite far-reaching, in terms of, such as, according to the joint industry association letter, demands for access to source code and mandatory back-doors.

But otherwise, yeah, pretty much tit-for-tat regulations.

But, there are differences in terms of implementation and enforcement, which are both infrastructural and cultural.

On the U.S. side, notwithstanding the unwritten policy referenced above, the process has been less about promulgating regulation and more about publicly debating legislation that may or may not ever become laws or rules, often as not with the Administration in cahoots with the Congress.  The end result, in American culture, is practically the same.  With or without enacting a law or rule, American purchasers are “chilled,” dissuaded from buying from vendors of certain geographical heritage even if only because spooked by just the specter of legislation.

The Chinese side doesn’t have the same institutional flexibility, and the culture is almost opposite.  
There is no legislature to use as a sounding board and/or to broadcast the informal chill.  There’s no public debate.  There’s just the government, and then whatever rules emerge.  However, unlike in the U.S. the rules are only sometimes enforced, and, generally speaking, ignored – not even a chill - until enforced, and consistently so.

A relevant case in point would be China’s so-called “Multi-level Protection Scheme,” introduced in 2007, which supposedly mandated that core ICT products used by Government and infrastructure companies, such as banks and transportation, must be provided by Chinese companies.  But the MLPS wasn’t enforced in pretty much any way until after 2010, and then only sporadically (otherwise we wouldn’t be talking about the new regulations promulgated at the end of 2014).

So, summing up, what we have is an escalating mess.  ICT leaders, whether based in the U.S., China or elsewhere, are all suffering, and will likely suffer further if the techno-nationalist trends in both and more countries persist. 

How do we take this in a new direction? 

Given the nature of the regime in China, it would seem unlikely that any China-based company would engage or have any success should they choose to do so in swaying the Chinese government. And a China-based company having any success talking reason into U.S. law- and policy-makers is, in my personal experience, a not-insignificant long-shot.

But, the U.S. regime does lend itself to that sort of influence, and U.S. companies are historically not shy about voicing their opinions to government (see all of the above).  Maybe if the American-based companies want a change in the new Chinese regulations, they might, in a show of good faith to the Chinese authorities, unite their disparate initiatives into one and begin simultaneously championing similarly fair environments in both countries, perhaps even in the context of alignment with their China-based non-members.

Indeed, this would seem a natural threshold to a broader, more rational (commercially and technologically) global conversation about the utterly borderless nature of the ICT industry - and the critical global supply chains that fuel ICT companies - and the irrationality and ineffectiveness of national policies based on old world geographical borders that are largely irrelevant in the digitalized, globalized ICT market.

January 23, 2015

Should We Worry About a Cyber-Princip?

This post resurrects a concept I initially proposed almost three years ago, the idea of borrowing from military/diplomatic history to address current and future cyber/diplomatic challenges, a concept that has seemingly become more mainstream over the last couple of years.

In March of 2012, I blogged about the potential model of the arms control treaties that emerged in and around and after the age of Mutually Assured Destruction (link).  This time around, I’m going yet further back in time, but to reinforce the same idea.

At the turn of the century, 117 years ago, the world’s great powers gathered in The Hague in 1898 to discuss what would be the first true multilateral treaty focused on the conduct of warfare, the laws of war, methods of arbitration, and, interestingly, for the purposes of this post, arms control.

There were any number of reasons for the Conference, depending on your historian of choice, ranging from commercial and political fears that a Golden Age might fall to war, to a growing global pacifist movement, to Czar Nicholas II’s concern that Russia had fallen so far behind militarily that only an arms accord might freeze the gap (Nicholas convened the conference).

Whatever the case, there were not-insignificant numbers of people of influence within the major nation States that responded to the Czar’s call to assemble that were genuinely worried about the pace of development of military technology.  

Indeed, from Napoleon’s war at the turn of the previous century, through the mid-century Crimean and American Civil Wars; from Britain’s colonial conflicts in Africa, to the Franco-Prussian and Spanish-American wars late in the century, it was becoming exceedingly obvious that war was becoming increasingly hellish (although few imagined the technology and mass-army inspired horror and devastation that World War I would bring a mere decade-and-a-half later).

A number of Conventions were agreed when The Hague Conference closed in 1899, ranging from arrangements related to dispute settlement and arbitration, the treatment of prisoners of war, a ban on bombardment of undefended towns, the protection of hospital ships, etc.  More intriguing, perhaps, were the conventions focused on arms control, which were as much about “behavior” as anything else, in terms of managing prospective technological threats. 

To wit, the “Declaration concerning the Prohibition of the Discharge of Projectiles and Explosives from Balloons or by Other New Analogous Methods,” which provided, for a period of five years, in any war between signatory powers, no projectiles or explosives would be launched from balloons, "or by other new methods of a similar nature."

And then there was the “Declaration concerning the Prohibition of the Use of Projectiles with the Sole Object to Spread Asphyxiating Poisonous Gases,” which provided that in any war between signatory powers, the parties would abstain from using projectiles "the sole object of which is the diffusion of asphyxiating or deleterious gases."

As a final example, there was the “Declaration concerning the Prohibition of the Use of Bullets which can Easily Expand or Change their Form inside the Human Body such as Bullets with a Hard Covering which does not Completely Cover the Core, or containing Indentations,” which called for signatories not to use such munitions.

As a historical note, only the U.S. (joined by the UK in terms of the “bombs from balloons” prohibition) failed to ratify these Conventions – but that is not the point of this post).

From our current vantage point and era of inconceivably rapid technological development, it is perhaps naïve, even quaint, to imagine such Conventions, which in effect were intended to somehow “govern” progress.  (In fairness, any modern day perception of naïveté is arguably unfair, given that the Conference attendees were dealing with advanced warfare that was in some cases prospective and unproven, yet all the more fearsome in its strangeness).

Notwithstanding the fact that the second Hague Conference in 1907 was an abysmal failure, and the yet-more-painful fact that some of the 1899 Conventions were tossed aside once WW1 kicked off, the Hague Conference(s) and Conventions and their impetus present an interesting analogy for the not-so-dissimilar situation we face in today’s world when it comes to the militarization of cyberspace.

Without a doubt, today’s powers that be have a pretty solid understanding of the havoc they can (and do) wreak in the realm of cyber, from espionage (pick your favorite Snowden Revelation or Mandiant Report) to disruption (ala Stuxnet).  At the same time, there is growing angst about the über-threat of some sort of “cyber-Pearl Harbor” or “cyber-911” or “cyber-[insert alternative bogeymonster here].”

These are very real concerns about very not-yet-fully-real cyber threats, like enemies shutting down electricity grids, crashing stock markets, crippling critical infrastructure, etc.  Indeed, these are modern-day concerns quite akin to the late 19th century worries about bombs dropped from balloons, or projectiles designed to deliver poison gas, or dum dum bullets in the battlefield (all of which came to pass).

Czar Nicholas’s initiative failed.  But the model is not a bad one, in terms of managing tensions.  The cyber-stage is only getting more crowded, by State and non-State players alike.  To the extent that some of the tension can be defused through multilateral agreement between States, why not go there, and in an accelerated fashion as opposed to what seems a pattern of politically-gamed fits and starts.

If governments can take cyber-Armageddon off the table, then industry can more effectively (hopefully with less nonsensical political interference in what should be – largely - a technical and commercial process) work towards the more pedestrian restoration of trust and confidence in the networks that power our digital lives, and in the integrity of the data that flows through them.

If this is cyber-1899, or anything like it, then let’s get it right this time.  

Let’s work to ratchet down the tension and set the right rules and limits so that if or when some latter day Gavrilo Princip hacks the National Bank of Austria we don’t find ourselves sucked into a global cyber-maelstrom from which we cannot extricate ourselves, a frightening blend of digital and physical devastation unlike anything the world has heretofore witnessed.

January 19, 2015

The President Wants Competitive Broadband. Good.

Over the last year, the “network neutrality” debate has re-emerged with a vigor reminiscent of the fiery rhetoric of 2010. 

While the FCC dithers on definition and incumbents battle to maintain either their freedom to tier or their freedom to “ride” (depending on the nature of the incumbent), the President last week entered the fray in a related call for more broadband competition and coverage, particularly in rural and underserved areas.

Summing up the President’s proposed initiatives, The Financial Times quoted the White House: “Every American should have options for better, faster broadband…Broadband is no longer a luxury. It’s a necessity. It’s a necessity for businesses, for families, and for our national competitiveness.”

True.  Very true.

Indeed, in 2012, 2013 and 2014, the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute released sequential ”Cost of Connectivity” studies, reviewing the cost of consumer broadband services in 24 cities around the world.  In each year, the results showed that, in comparison to their international peers, Americans in major cities such as New York, LA, and DC pay higher prices for slower Internet service.  

Reports from the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and other public and private or public-private organizations have made similar findings.

It is widely anticipated that we will hear more about the President’s broadband initiatives in his State of the Union speech tomorrow.  But, in short, what he proposed last week, with a special focus on local and community broadband, includes: Eliminating State laws which stymie local broadband competition; Expanding local public-private and R&D-oriented partnerships focused on broadband; Launching a new Commerce Department initiative called BroadbandUSA to promote deployment and adoption; Unveiling new grant and loan opportunities for rural providers; and Removing regulatory barriers and improving investment incentives.

That’s a whole lotta motherhood and apple pie.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for it.  There is no acceptable reason that the nation that once occupied the cradle of the Internet should now be camped out in a lean-to.

But let’s take a closer look at that last one: Removing Regulatory Barriers and Improving Investment Incentives

According to the White House Fact Sheet on the President’s Broadband plans announced last week, “The President is calling for the Federal Government to remove all unnecessary regulatory and policy barriers to broadband build-out and competition, and is establishing a new Broadband Opportunity Council of over a dozen government agencies with the singular goal of speeding up broadband deployment and promoting adoption for our citizens.

To these points, speaking in Cedar Falls, Iowa last week at the unveiling of his suite of broadband initiatives, the President said: "In too many places across America, some big companies are doing everything they can to keep out competitors…Today, I'm saying we're going to change that. Enough's enough."

True.  Quite true.

Now, let’s take a moment to ensure contextual clarity: The President’s comments about competition, as well as the focus of the broadband agenda he outlined last week, as well as the general gist of the ongoing network neutrality debate at the FCC, are about the provisioning of Internet services and content.

But broadband competition takes place on multiple levels.

Last week I posted on a separate laundry list of Presidential initiatives unveiled last week (it’s that time of year) - a suite of cybersecurity-related policy and legislative proposals.  The gist of my January 14 post (linked) was that the success of the proposed activities – all domestically-focused - might be limited in the absence of broader global initiatives to address truly fundamental and global challenges.

Similarly, the President’s broadband initiatives, at least as outlined last week, are also, um, “half-fast” (thanks Verizon – clever campaign, by the way), at least in terms of addressing the establishment of a more competitive market environment for American broadband.

(Regular readers, you know where this is going).

The New American Foundation, OECD, ITU and other reports on the relative cost of broadband across markets at some point or another – conscious or not – end up depicting some sort of juxtaposition of the European situation vs. the American situation.

It seems, fixed data-speeds and 4G wireless deployment schedules notwithstanding, that Europe has the lead over the U.S. in terms of the average cost of broadband to the average consumer.  One reason, it would seem, is the fact that consumers, even in rural or far-flung areas, have the option to choose among broadband suppliers, which in turn forces those service providers to competitively price their offerings.

In contrast, as the President said in Iowa last week: "Tens of millions of Americans have only one choice for that next-generation broadband. So, they're pretty much at the whim of whatever Internet provider is around.”

But Europe has had the benefit of other competitive pressures as well, pressures that have had not just an impact in terms of lower cost broadband, but also in terms of more innovative broadband. 

In short, Europe has been open to investment and innovative new technologies on a market-based basis, including solutions from world-leading Huawei Technologies, a $47 billion company doing business in over 170 countries, which happens to be headquartered in China.  

Such competition has driven innovation and more rational, market-based pricing of telecommunications equipment across Europe, driving down costs and extending broadband to everyday consumers.

(Perfunctory disclaimer, again: Huawei is my employer, but this blog is my own, the content unvetted, uncleared by any third party).

U.S. Internet and telecommunications service providers have been routinely pressured by the U.S. Government to eschew Huawei gear, based on never-substantiated concerns associated with the company’s heritage in China, concerns which fly in the face of a very important pair of facts: 1) Huawei is deployed by nationwide service providers in virtually every OECD country without incident; 2) All of Huawei’s “Western” competitors are, like Huawei, conducting R&D, building and coding on a global basis, including in China.  To the extent that such presents potential vulnerabilities, they are commonly shared across the industry.

Now, let’s look at a case study that would seem relevant to the President’s initiative to introduce more competition and more broadband in rural markets:

In October of 2012, 60 Minutes profiled Huawei (not terribly accurate, balanced or even responsible journalism, but I guess that’s a matter of one’s perspective). 

During the program, the 60 Minutes correspondent interviewed the President and General Manager of a small local telecommunications carrier who communicated his goal of reaching as far as possible into rural areas, and his observation that “the new Huawei network delivers some of the fastest Internet speeds in the country.”

The carrier President told 60 Minutes that he had been pressured by “federal agents” about Huawei, pressured to buy from someone else. 

In answer to a subsequent question from the 60 Minutes correspondent, the carrier President said he was upset by the visit because he “saw it as interference in our operations. If we're not able to buy the very best equipment and deploy it in an efficient manner, then everybody suffers.” 

Notably, 60 Minutes concluded this segment of its program asking the obligatory question about American bidders on the project, to which the carrier President replied: “I don't know of any American companies that makes this equipment.”

The intervention featured on this particular news program was not an isolated incident.  Indeed, it was an example of a pattern of behavior.  It was indicative of a “policy.”

So yes, Mr. President, by all means, and in the words of the White House, let’s call “for the Federal Government to remove all unnecessary regulatory and policy barriers to broadband build-out and competition.”

All of them. 

And, if for whatever reason there is someone somewhere within the Administration or otherwise that would purport that market-distorting barriers to preclude competition from select companies based on their country of heritage - in an industry that has eclipsed national borders – is “necessary,” then, in the name of the very competition the President seeks, they should be compelled to justify that finding, and publicly.