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Security fear killing agreement between NFL team and Huawei to add Wi-Fi to the stadium



As we have often mentioned, back in 2012, the US government called Huawei a national security threat. There was speculation that Huawei phones and network equipment were spying on US consumers and companies, a fear that continues today despite the company's denials. This fear was so pervasive that it led a government advisor to blast an agreement between the NFL Washington Redskins and Huawei.
Back in 2014, the NFL team in the nation's capital, Washington Redskins, had drafted an agreement with Huawei to equip the suites at FedEx Field with Wi-Fi. According to the Wall Street Journal, Huawei in return will receive free advertising on the stadium and during broadcasts of Redskins games. This would be quite a deal for a company that wants to get traction in the United States.

But a government advisor, Michael Wessel, reads about the deal and was worried. The suites were often occupied by lawmakers and senior authorities, many of which led important agencies. Wessel, a member of a Congress Research and Advisory Panel called the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission was able to get a high-ranking government official to make an unofficial complaint to Redskins, and the deal was broken. But not before Huawei's name and logo was posted on FedEx Field's electronic game for a few games.

A security expert, Mathy Vanhoef, who works at New York University in Abu Dhabi, says that it would be possible for Huawei's Wi-Fi equipment to retrieve encrypted emails and data from the stadium suites. But the data would not be useful, the researcher explains, because email systems and websites use hard-to-crack encryption. And the government officials will probably have a new encryption layer on top. But that information does not make Wessel better. The government advisor said it would still be too risky to let the Wi-Fi network be built.

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