Google warns of risks to US national security from ban on China firm

The US administration in May added Huawei to a trade blacklist.
The US administration in May added Huawei to a trade blacklist.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

WASHINGTON • Google has warned the Trump administration that it risks compromising US national security if it goes ahead with export restrictions on China's 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 United States-based technology giant have warned that it would not 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 report said.

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 US government has warned that Huawei presents a security risk, saying that the equipment it supplies to telecommunications carriers around the world could be compromised to aid espionage and surveillance by Beijing.

Under the Commerce Department's order, US suppliers are able to appeal for special approval to continue selling to Huawei.

This week, Huawei chairman Liang Hua told a small group of American reporters visiting the company's China operations that Google was working with the Commerce Department to find a solution. He said it would benefit consumers if Google and the US government could 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 US government and is waiting to see how the Google talks evolve.

An alternative operating system by Huawei presents several risks for Google. If Huawei develops its own version of Android, Google will not be able to control it, so it cannot manage security upgrades or reap the consumer data that makes its services useful and fuels advertising revenue.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 08, 2019, with the headline 'Google warns of risks to US national security from ban on China firm'. Print Edition | Subscribe