Solaborate sells devices that are produced in China. The Hello2 device from Solaborate, is bigger than many Huawei devices. We know that in the case of Huawei – devices have been banned by many US government agencies due to security concerns. So what makes other devices manufactured in China any different?
The Hello2 from Solaborate, made in China:
One of the features and uses of the Hello2 is security surveillance. Yet following concerns with Huawei, the question is what guarantees can a company give – where a high-tech communication device outweighs the size of many Huawei devices, if it is made in China? Indeed Solaborate claims to provide an “end to end” encrypted device, which sounds rather nice and safe. There is also no doubt that the Solaborate products are innovative, but there is a broader issue which deserves more attention.
The problem with China and security:
It is not that China is the only country capable of making devices that can be used to spy on other countries and citizens – including businesses, which risks communication leaks and a breach of sensitive commercial information. The concern is rather that in China, the government is TOO CLOSE to businesses – as it is near impossible to find a Chinese company where the government is not deeply involved.
This means that no company who outsource the manufacturing of their security and communications devices in China, can be sure that they are not being used as a tool or vehicle for Chinese intelligence agencies.
It is quite easy to be seduced by cheap technology and the ability to add a substantial mark-up on products when re-branding them for the US market. The same goes for white-label products and even those that are slightly modified or completely bespoke. But people may unknowingly enter into a security trap when outsourcing the production of security and communications devices to China. Americans, or those starting a TECH business in America, in turn, may feel they support a product that was designed in America – and sold on a crowdfunding platform such as IndieGoGo, however there is a caveat. Big Tech, such as Apple and Google – may also manufacture in China, but have substantial R&D departments and cybersecurity divisions to prevent security breaches. Can a company that relies on crowdfunding to produce it’s devices guarantee the same level of security as Big Tech?
The US is shifting a lot of production capabilities towards the Americas: Mexico will likely become a key partner to replace China as a manufacturing partner, particularly where cybersecurity is of importance.
The Solaborate Hello2 and many other devices produced by this company may indeed be cool gadgets, but any company manufacturing surveillance and communication equipment in China should go the extra step in proving that it’s manufacturer in China is significantly further away from government than Huawei. It is rather unlikely to find a fully independent manufacturer in China.
President Trump made clear that it is not about restricting markets – the US wants fair competition with China. Yet when it gets to cybersecurity issues, congress is unlikely to back down. The onus is on American retailers to reassure consumers that communication devices produced in China, will not cause the same concerns to government officials as was the case with Huawei.