Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 19 August 2019

Google has warned US of security risks from banning Huawei, report says

US tech giant is concerned that ban would prompt Chinese company to develop its own version of software

There are about 2.5 billion active Android devices worldwide, according to Google. Reuters
There are about 2.5 billion active Android devices worldwide, according to Google. Reuters

Google has warned the White House that it will compromise national security if it goes ahead with imposing trade restrictions on Chinese telecom equipment manufacturer Huawei, said a media report.

While exhorting Donald Trump administration to allow it to export software and services to Huawei, Alphabet-owned Google said that it would be more dangerous if the Chinese company develops its own operating system for smartphones, reported Financial Times, citing three people briefed on the conversations.

“Google argues a Huawei-modified version of Android would be more susceptible to being hacked,” said the FT report.

Google is worried it would not be allowed to update its Android operating system on Huawei smartphones, which it said would prompt the Chinese company to develop its own version of the software.

According to Google, there are about 2.5 billion active Android devices worldwide. In the second quarter of last year, nearly 88 per cent of all smartphones sold were using the Android operating system, according to Statista.

Google said that by stopping it from doing business with Huawei, the US risks creating two kinds of Android operating system - the genuine version and a hybrid one, said the FT report, adding, “The hybrid one is likely to have more bugs in it than the Google one, and so could put Huawei phones more at risk of being hacked, not least by China.”

On May 17, Washington placed Huawei on a commerce blacklist, barring US companies from doing business with China's biggest technology firm. With no alternative, US technology companies complied. However, the White House later backtracked on the immediate banning of Huawei, granting the company a three-month reprieve after US technology stocks tanked.

The Trump administration accuses Huawei of aiding Beijing in espionage, a claim the company denies.

Huawei has confirmed that it developed an exclusive operating system for its devices in the wake of ongoing friction with the US government. The company’s mobile chief Richard Yu said in an earlier interview that Huawei has its own operating system if it turns out it can no longer use Android.

Huawei also has its own store for downloading apps in China that could be rolled-out worldwide.

Updated: June 8, 2019 10:13 AM

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