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The USCC launched a probe against Lenovo, but many wonder if the accusations are warranted

The United States government is planning to spend roughly $13M USD on computers from Lenovo. The company, famous for buying up IBM's PC manufacturing arm, is working on a deal with the US government to produce roughly 16,000 computers. Just recently, the U.S.-China Economic Security Review Commission (USCC) has requested that Lenovo be probed for any concerns about possible spying, eavesdropping or worse.

The supposed problem presented by the USCC is that the 16,000 computers are being built by a Chinese-mainland company.  The USCC argues that a foreign intelligence like that of the Communist Party of China (CPC) can use its power to get Lenovo to equip its machines with espionage devices. Lenovo has strongly declined that it is involved in any such activities.

Many analysts would call these probes are excessive and knee-jerk.  When manufactured under IBM, almost all Lenovo PCs were built in the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China (Taiwan) to some degree or another anyway.  Of the top 10 system builders in the US, eight have some component manufacture attributed specifically to ECS-Tatung, at Taiwanese corporation that only assembles exclusively in the PRC.  Of the other two not represented by ECS-Tatung, Dell and Apple, Dell has a strong reliance on ASUStek -- another company that builds exclusively in the PRC. 

Despite the probe, Lenovo says that its international business, especially those that deal with the US, follow strictly laid out government regulations and rules. Lenovo also claims that even after purchasing IBM's PC division, its international business has not been affected negatively. Interestingly, in an interview with the BBC, Lenovo mentioned that an open investigation or probe may negatively affect the way that the company deals with future government contracts or bids. The Lenovo representative did not explain details on exactly what negative implications would occur if there were future investigations. The 16,000 PCs to be built for the US government are actually assembled outside of China in Mexico, Taiwan and Raleigh -- an oddity in the PC manufacturing business.

A top tier motherboard manufacturer spokesman spoke to us off the record claiming the Lenovo probe has "foreboding" implications.  If US companies are intimidated by probes of the USCC, such probes could be easily applied to virtually every PC manufacturer in the US: Intel motherboards are built by Taiwanese Hon Hai Precision Industries from facilities in Shenzhen; Acer components are built by component manufacturers in Shanghai; Dell PCs are assembled in factories in Suzhou and Shanghai.  The same spokesperson went on to say "We [Taiwanese manufactures] do more work in China than we do anywhere else in the world. I don't even want to think about what would happen to our US clients if we got a USCC probe."

CDW Government, the company originally contracted to fill the orders for the US government also carries several brands that are assembled in the PRC including Acer, BenQ, D-Link, HP, Sharp and Toshiba. 



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RE: Simply wipe the O.S. anyway...
By flare99 on 3/30/2006 11:14:30 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah I heard those pesky chinese put in micro spies within their hardware which get to work as soon as you go to sleep. Then they torture your data and interogate it for secrets, finally they implant all this information into nano flies which takes all this data to china directly without any need for the internet.

With so high tech spy gadgets what are poor americans going to do... hmm, I have a solution: "Make your products in your own homeland". Not only will it create more jobs but will also help U.S. from the insecurity it feels from some other country's products.


RE: Simply wipe the O.S. anyway...
By masher2 (blog) on 3/30/2006 11:28:44 AM , Rating: 2
> "finally they implant all this information into nano flies which takes all this data to china directly without any need for the internet"

Are you truly so naive? Without even trying, I can think of a dozen different ways a modified laptop could be a severe security risk. Starting with a small modification to the onboard wireless NIC, coupled with a hardware keystroke logger.

Think such a thing is improbable? Read about the British Government's million-dollar electronic spy "rock", recently discovered by the Russians.

Then ask yourself why the Chinese state government decided to pay a huge sum for a laptop division that's lost money consistently for half a decade.


RE: Simply wipe the O.S. anyway...
By flare99 on 3/30/2006 12:25:46 PM , Rating: 2
Who said that these things are impossible? I just said that why jump into fire when you know the consequences.


RE: Simply wipe the O.S. anyway...
By Griswold on 3/31/2006 10:30:07 AM , Rating: 2
Are you really so naive to think that this could not be thwarted if expected? Of course you are.

And the reason they bought the PC division from IBM is simple: its a huge market over there in china and they get it for a cheap price with good products (thinkpads still rock your mommy) - all that without doing any R&D.

Geez, paranoid people with access to the "horrible"...


"So, I think the same thing of the music industry. They can't say that they're losing money, you know what I'm saying. They just probably don't have the same surplus that they had." -- Wu-Tang Clan founder RZA











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