The newest report to come out of the Edward Snowden files is maybe the least surprising of all – the NSA had an organized plan to spy on Huawei, a Chinese telecom and smartphone manufacturer. Because sometimes, it’s nice to know that the NSA isn’t just spying on its own country.
A couple of slides from an internal NSA PowerPoint presentation outline the goals of the operation, called Operation Shotgiant. The United States government has long refused to allow Huawei to run any telecommunications networks inside the country, because of suspicions that the Chinese government would use Huawei as a source of espionage themselves. But, a lot of other countries do use Huawei networks, including Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kenya, and Cuba. I’d say those are countries that the NSA would be interested in spying on, but then again, I don’t think there are any countries they wouldn’t be interested in spying on. After all, spying is the only reason the NSA even exists.
There were three main goals the NSA wanted to accomplish with Operation Shotgiant, which was apparently planned or put into action in 2010. Besides spying on the telecommunications of the countries listed above, the NSA wanted to find out everything it could about Huawei’s corporate structure and future plans, and discover whether or not China was using Huawei to spy on other countries, including the United States.
Of course, the Chinese government has already demanded an explanation for the spy program – and why not, might as well rub it in if you can. But, as for what takes place behind the scenes at the highest level of governments, a Washington Post report quotes James A. Lewis of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, who sums it up nicely – ‘The Chinese always believed that the U.S. was hacking into everything, so Snowden’s revelations weren’t a big surprise to them.’ Probably not a big surprise to anyone else, at this point.