Google Tells Trump Administration Its Proposed Huawei Ban Could Compromise Security

June 7, 2019, 11:57 AM UTC

Google has warned the Trump administration that it risks compromising U.S. national security if it goes ahead with export restrictions on Huawei, and has asked to be exempted from any ban, the Financial Times reported, citing three people briefed on the conversations.

Senior officials at the U.S.-based tech giant have warned it wouldn’t be able to update its Android operating system on Huawei’s smartphones, prompting the Chinese company to develop its own version of the software, the FT says. A Huawei-modified version of Android, Google argued, could then be more vulnerable to hacking risks.

The Trump Administration blacklisted the Chinese technology giant in a policy move that will prevent it from buying semiconductors, software and other components from American suppliers. The U.S. government has warned that Huawei presents a security risk because the equipment it supplies to telecom carriers around the world could be compromised to aid espionage and surveillance by Beijing.

The Commerce Department decision to restrict Huawei and 67 affiliates from purchasing American supplies jeopardizes the company’s networking and smartphone operations. Under the order, U.S. suppliers are able to appeal for special approval to continue selling to Huawei.

This week, Chairman Liang Hua told a small group of American reporters visiting Huawei’s China operations that Google is working with the Commerce Department to find a solution. He said it would benefit consumers if Google and U.S. government can work out a solution.

“In the short term there is some impact on our business,” he said. ‘In the long term, we will have to develop our own operating system and ecosystem.”

He said that Huawei has not negotiated directly with the U.S. government and is waiting to see how the Google talks evolve. Huawei has said that if it has to develop an alternative operating system it could do so “very quickly.”

Such a scenario presents several risks for Google. If Huawei develops its own version of Android, the search giant won’t control it so can’t manage security upgrades or reap the consumer data that makes its services useful and fuels advertising revenue.

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