updated 07:44 am EDT, Fri July 26, 2013
Chinese firm under more espionage-related scrutiny in UK government proposal
One of the adult content filtering systems being used at a large Internet service provider (ISP) in the UK has come under fire in reports, due to close ties with the Chinese government. Homesafe, the filtering system used by TalkTalk and praised by Prime Minister David Cameron in his online child protection proposal speech earlier this week, is being managed by Huawei, a company that has been accused of being a security risk by authorities in both the United Kingdom and the United states.
The BBC was originally told by TalkTalk that Huawei supplied just the hardware for the system, with Symantec being responsible for monitoring and maintaining the blacklist. The broadcaster later learned that Symantec had only been involved in the initial setup of the system, and has not been involved with the system for over a year. TalkTalk later confirmed Huawei as the blacklist maintainer.
Huawei has been the target of many complaints from officials in the US for a number of months, with many accusations of sharing data with Chinese authorities being leveled against the company. This has forced Huawei to fight back, with vice president William Plummer recently demanding evidence for the "politically-inspired and racist corporate defamation," ordering critics to "Put up. Or shut up."
The potential security risk of Huawei, which supplies a considerable amount of infrastructure equipment to telecommunications companies in Europe, is one of a number of issues in the recent proposals by the Prime Minister to restrict content on the Internet in the United Kingdom. A number of critics have spoken out over the proposals, which includes search engine blacklisting for sensitive terms, forcing the removal of "extreme" adult content from sites, and the default opt-in of adult content filtering on Internet connections in the country. Former boss of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection center Jim Gamble claimed at the time that the proposals "need a real deterrent, not a pop-up that pedophiles will laugh at."
Member of Parliament Claire Perry, a minister that spent the last three years pushing for the ISP-level filtering of content, recently had her website defaced by hackers to show pornography, the same content that she was fighting to block, reports TechDirt. Perry later accused political columnist and blogger Guido Fawkes of sponsoring the attack, after he wrote a report about it, later threatening to complain to his editor. Fawkes is now pursuing a defamation case against Perry, according to the Guardian.