Tag Archives: 3G modem

China shows us the way

China has demanded that European countries share their source code before selling equipment to the Chinese government. My guess is that the EU’s reluctance is that China will “steal technology”. Though the question is, why not share it freely in the first place?

But what if we demanded the same from a European standpoint? Considering strong doubts regarding the, basically, single chip vendor for mobile communications devices Huawei (mostly known for their USB-connected GSM chip 3G modems). Privately owned on paper, this neither in a “Western” market nor Chinese reign gives any confidence in what information they collect or what they do with it.

The scariest fact is that just about every person out there, ordinary Joe, CEOs or government officials with 3G-connected laptops use equipment from Huawei. And proprietary drivers of course, unless you run Linux. However that’s kind of beside the point, considering how much of a separate machine the GSM chip is. Together with a SIM card it’s a fairly intelligent piece of computer with serial console access.

Of course there are specifications of how these chips work out in the public, for FCC approval and whatnot. Had there been obvious backdoors, information leaks or so, it would have been noticed by now. On the other hand, the FCC (and others) do not check for hardware/software security holes at all. 3G modems in Linux at least act through usbserial.ko, so the risk for security backdoors is slim-to-none. But what information may perhaps – unknowingly – be retrievable? Or in the future perhaps accessible for selected companies or governments involved in the production of this technology.

Source code and hardware design can never be as thoroughly scrutinised as when released to the public.

Had there only been a formal standard, or at least a de-facto one, regarding open source usage and releasing source. There wouldn’t have to be any suspicions to either side, Chinese or European or American. My bet is that sharing knowledge creates a need for co-operation, accelerated technological development and better relations between nations and unions of nations. The technological “upper hand” today doesn’t last long enough for a product to hit the market anyway.

The flow of information is too fast anyway.
Everyting is copied, co-developed and spread in the blink of an eye.

The European Union should willingly share source code and technology – and even legislate that any data emission technology must be open source and open hardware. Under Free licenses.