Google warns Huawei ban poses risk to US security

Google Android

Google is trying to make a case to the US government that it needs to be able to provide technology to Huawei for national security, according to reports.

The main gist of the argument is that Huawei would be forced to fork Android into a 'hybrid' version which could present more of a security risk, according to The Finacial Times.

In the aftermath of the Trump administration placing Huawei on a trade blacklist, banning all US companies for selling technology to the Chinese telecoms giant, Google was one of the first to comply by revoking its Android license. A temporary deal was reached to support current Huawei devices, but when it runs out the Chinese firm will have to come up with an alternative.

Huawei phones are already banned in the US, which makes the case that a forked version of Android being sold elsewhere in the world is a serious threat to US national security might seem a bit strange. The source in The Financial Times doesn't explicitly lay out Google's argument, but according to The Verge, it's not difficult to imagine how it would go.

With a 'forked' version sans any Google services, such as Google Play Protect, which is software that automatically scans for malware, viruses, and security threats, Huawei handsets sold globally could be less secure and as such ripe for hacking. If someone in the US unknowingly sends sensitive information to a hacked device, no matter how secure end-to-end encryption is, any malware on the phone could keep that information visible, resulting in a breach for the US.

"Like other US companies, we're engaging with the Department of Commerce to ensure we're in full compliance with its requirements and temporary licence. Our focus is protecting the security of Google users on the millions of existing Huawei handsets in the US and around the world," a Google spokesperson told the FT.

Huawei devices, such as the P20, P30 and the Mate 20 have proven to be very popular in Europe, but the company's growth in that market could be stopped without an Android license.

What's more, its phone business took a further hit today as Facebook announced it would not allow Huawei to have its app pre-install on smartphones.

Bobby Hellard

Bobby Hellard is ITPro's Reviews Editor and has worked on CloudPro and ChannelPro since 2018. In his time at ITPro, Bobby has covered stories for all the major technology companies, such as Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook, and regularly attends industry-leading events such as AWS Re:Invent and Google Cloud Next.

Bobby mainly covers hardware reviews, but you will also recognize him as the face of many of our video reviews of laptops and smartphones.