HH: So pleased to welcome back to the Hugh Hewitt Show Undersecretary of State Keith Krach. He is the man in charge of our technology and the revolution that State is overseeing in creating a clean network. We’ve got lots to talk about. Good morning, Mr. Undersecretary. Great to have you on the show.
KK: Hugh, it’s so great to be back. Thank you so much, my friend.
HH: I want to begin with a subject I discussed earlier today with Chuck Todd and others before we move to the clean network. Yesterday, the FTC brought an enforcement action along with 48 attorneys general against Facebook. I am not a fan of this. I think it’s wholly misplaced, driven by plaintiff’s lawyers, and I think it takes our eye off the ball, which is Chinese Communist infiltration of our networks while striking at the heart of American industrial and technological might. Do you have an opinion on this?
KK: Well, I think Hugh, these companies, these high tech companies, they’re not allowed in China, although the Chinese ambassador uses all these companies here in the U.S. You know, it’s a great one-way China firewall. All the data comes in, but none of the data can go out. And reciprocally, all the propaganda goes out, but the truth doesn’t come in. So you know, it’s a one-way deal with these guys.
HH: Well, I am far more alarmed about privacy issues and about national security issues than I am about competition issues, and I think it’s just freelancing by the AG’s and a lame duck FTC, and I hate this. And I don’t own Facebook. I’ve got no connections to the company. Let me move to the clean network, Undersecretary Krach, because this is important for the future of America. Unlike what the FTC did, this initiative has to endure, it has to be bipartisan, it has to have the American people behind it. Can you describe it?
KK: Sure. So the clean network is an alliance of democracies that addresses the long-term threat posed by the Chinese Communist Party in terms of data privacy, security, human rights, and trusted collaboration. And it is a comprehensive strategy that is rooted in internationally-accepted digital trust standards on the back of a coalition of countries and companies. So right now, on the clean network, there are 53 countries representing two-thirds of the world’s global GDP, 180 telcos, and also some of the top companies in the world from Fujitsu to Cisco, to Siemens, to HP, to NEC. And Hugh, this is the force that has really turned back the tide on Huawei. Last February, Huawei announced they had 91 5G contracts. The most we can count is around a dozen. And I think in the process, it proved that China Inc is beatable, and we exposed their biggest weakness, and that is nobody trusts them.
HH: Now beating back the Huawei attempt to take over the market required a lot of jaw-jaw rather than war-war. We had to persuade people. How was that done? Was that you? Was that Mike Pompeo? Was that the National Security Council? Who persuaded our allies that this was cutting their wrists?
KK: Well, Hugh, this is a team sport. I mean, this is an all of the government effort. But also, one of the things, you know, the fastest way to build a network, Hugh, is to build a network of networks. So one of the first things I did is I went over to Europe and I met with an old friend. He’s EU Commissioner Thierry Breton. I knew him when he was the CEO of Bull and the CEO of France Telecom before it was Orange. And he’s responsible for 5G over there, and they came up with something called the EU 5G clean cybersecurity toolbox. So we merged our efforts. I also, while I was in Brussels, I met with Deputy Security-General of NATO, his name is Geoana. He’s Romanian. And he’s been a great ally. He goes look, we cannot have a fractured NATO network. We need those 5G civilian systems during peacetime and wartime. We can’t have some countries that have trusted providers in their network and some that have untrusted, and because you’re only as strong as your weakest link. So he goes we need a clean NATO network. So you know, I think we’ve got a lot of help from our friends. Japan has been great. You know, everybody from Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam, India, we have 26 of the 27 EU countries, 27 of the 30 NATO countries, 11 out of the 12 3C’s countries. So this has been a, this is a team sport.
HH: Now Secretary Krach, I don’t think of you as a Republican or a Democrat, and I don’t think of this issue as a partisan issue. This is a non-partisan, this, a clean network is as nonpartisan as an aircraft carrier. It’s essential to the national security.
KK: By the way…
HH: It’s absolutely essential.
KK: It is. This whole issue, I think, is the biggest unified, bipartisan issue of our time. You know, when you go out on Capitol Hill, on this issue, you cannot tell the difference between Democrats and Republicans, because everybody knows that this is the biggest existential threat that the United States faces. And you know, 5G is just the beginning. You know, the main battlefront is technology. And so the clean network also in addition to 5G is clean cloud and data centers, clean cable underwater cable, clean apps. And it can be expanded. And we’ve already started in terms of things like clean infrastructure and clean financing, clean minerals, clean energy, clean supply chains with clean labor practices. So this is a formula that works, and you know, when we combine the strength with our allies in an alliance of democracies, and it’s based on democratic values, the power is undeniable.
HH: At the intersection of need and expertise, this is always opportunity. I think the clean network is the best branding that has come out of the past four years, because everyone gets it. And the idea, the appeal of a clean network, of a Good Housekeeping seal of approval, now that’s an old term that people under 40 won’t understand, but it stood for that which had been reviewed by experts and had found to be reliable. That’s what the clean network symbol, seal of approval is. How do people know if they’re dealing with a clean network participant?
KK: Well, first of all, by matter of exclusion, because the ones that aren’t clean are the ones that come from China, because the Chinese Communist Party has the national intelligence act that requires any Chinese company, state owned or otherwise, or any citizen to turn over any information, proprietary technology, intellectual property, or data upon request of the Chinese Communist Party, or you suffer the consequence. So you know, if you look at this, at the end of the day, this is not a technical decision deciding on clean technology. It all boils down to trust. Who do you trust? And do you trust a country that is an authoritarian state that has a law like that, and has stolen intellectual property, done all kinds of things. So…
HH: I am talking with Undersecretary Keith Krach. You can follow him on Twitter, @KeithJKrach. He’s a high tech executive. He founded DocuSign. He actually knows what he’s doing. He’s the ambassador of Silicon Valley to Washington, D.C., and he’s accepted by everyone as an honest and fair broker on these matters. Mr. Secretary, the Fang-FANG scandal broke this week. Do people who are concerned about infiltration of their companies, their networks, their friends, can they rely on the clean network as a quick shortcut to reliability of provider?
KK: By the way, you know, they can, because you know, this is a critical thing. Data privacy and security is the issue of our time. And you know, this is something that is, it is also a big thing. It not only takes an all of government effort, but it takes the private sector, it takes our international partners. So Hugh, this is key.
HH: Okay, last question, Mr. Secretary. You have lots of friends in Silicon Valley, lots of friends throughout California. You’re the Golden State’s guy in Washington right now. Do they get it? Do the tech sector get the need to stay from companies that are not in the clean network?
KK: You know, they do. One of the things that I did, Hugh, at the beginning of the year is I took Secretary Pompeo out to the Silicon Valley. I hosted him out there for four days. The first night, we kicked it off with a dinner in my home with 36 of the top CEO’s. You’d recognize all these guys. And we had, I had them go around the table and tell their Communist Party war stories, and I mean, it was horrific. And at the end of the night, you know, I said look, guys, we always say out here that corporate responsibility is social responsibility. It’s also national security, too, because not only is the Chinese Communist Party a real and urgent threat to democracy, but it’s a real and urgent threat to your companies, because they don’t want to just compete. They want to put you out of business. And that resonated, Hugh.
HH: Great message. Undersecretary Keith Krach, thank you for joining me this morning. Follow him on Twitter, @KeithJKrach.
End of interview.