Democrats, beware: do not use Huawei or ZTE phones, says the Democratic National Committee. After DNC learned that one of its associated organizations is thinking of buying ZTE phones for members, it sent out a warning not to.
"It's very important that party and campaign workers not use ZTE or Huawei devices, even if the price is low or free," says Bob Lord, DNC chief security officer, as CNN reports. He added that DNC members shouldn't be using devices from either of the aforementioned companies for work or personal use.
DNC Cautions Against Using ZTE And Huawei Devices
Officials from major security agencies in the country, including the FBI, CIA, NSA, and the Defense Intelligence Agency, said back in February that Chinese phone makers posed a security threat to American consumers.
Christopher Wray, FBI director, told the committee that any company beholden to foreign governments that don't share the country's values are not the type of companies it wants to gain leverage inside the telecommunications landscape.
"It provides the capacity to maliciously modify or steal information. And it provides the capacity to conduct undetected espionage," according to Wray.
However, ZTE rebutted at the time by saying it intends to follow U.S. regulations strictly.
"As a publicly traded company, we are committed to adhering to all applicable laws and regulations of the United States, work with carriers to pass strict testing protocols, and adhere to the highest business standards."
The U.S. government has singled out both Huawei and ZTE for their possible connections to Beijing, as The Verge notes. Back in 2012, the U.S. House Intelligence Committee regarded both companies as serious risks to security, claiming that their devices can spy on citizens, collect their data, and send that data back to China.
ZTE and Huawei have yet to comment on the DNC's latest warning.
This past July, the U.S. government lifted an export ban on ZTE, which was put in place in April. The ban was lifted when the Commerce Department entered into an agreement with ZTE in which it had to pay a $1 billion fine and put $400 million in an escrow account. Huawei, on the other hand, is currently being investigated over potentially violating U.S. sanctions related to Iran.
The DNC isn't working off any new information for this latest warning, it should be noted. The DNC's fear over potential hacks is understandable, though. It's been on high alert since Russian military officials hacked the committee in 2016.