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Google to Provide Huawei Software and Security Updates For 90 Days

Main building at Huawei’s production campus on April 25, 2019 in Dongguan, near Shenzhen, China
Main building at Huawei’s production campus on April 25, 2019 in Dongguan, near Shenzhen, China
Photo: Getty Images

Google will temporarily continue to work with Huawei for the next 90 days after being effectively forced to cut business ties with the Chinese tech giant over the weekend in the wake of an American ban.

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Google’s action comes after the U.S. Commerce Department granted a 90-day license on Monday for any tech companies that need to work with Huawei to ensure customers have access to apps and security updates. Huawei is still banned from buying hardware from companies like Intel, Broadcom, and Qualcomm, which have all stopped supplying Huawei.

“Keeping phones up to date and secure is in everyone’s best interests and this temporary license allows us to continue to provide software updates and security patches to existing models for the next 90 days,” a Google spokesperson told Gizmodo by email. Huawei did not immediately respond to Gizmodo’s request for comment.

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President Donald Trump signed an executive order on May 15 that targeted Huawei, without mentioning it by name, over national security concerns. Many western countries allege that Huawei’s close ties to the Chinese government could allow for spying through Huawei hardware, but the U.S. has never produced evidence for this claim. After Trump’s executive order, the U.S. Commerce Department added Huawei to the so-called Entity List which prohibits companies working in the U.S. from supplying businesses on the list.

The 90-day extension will expire on August 19, and the Commerce Department’s own press release hints that while another extension could be granted after August, if necessary, Google will have to completely cut business ties eventually. Which is to say, this extension isn’t some political play in the broader U.S.-China trade war that’s being used as leverage. This is for keeps.

“The Temporary General License grants operators time to make other arrangements and the Department space to determine the appropriate long term measures for Americans and foreign telecommunications providers that currently rely on Huawei equipment for critical services,” Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said in a press release published on the agency’s website. “In short, this license will allow operations to continue for existing Huawei mobile phone users and rural broadband networks.”

Huawei has launched a media offensive around the world in the wake of President Trump’s ban on American businesses working with Huawei, and the Chinese tech giant knows how to invoke America’s own liberal-minded principles against it.

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Huawei’s vice president for Europe, Abraham Liu, gave a speech this morning proclaiming that America’s founding fathers would be alarmed by President Trump’s actions. And if the U.S. can attack Huawei’s business, they can attack any international business in the future, according to Liu.

Liu called the U.S. actions “unprecedented” and said that he hoped Huawei’s customers in Europe would make their own independent decisions about whether to use Huawei’s products.

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“The founding fathers of the U.S. Constitution would be alarmed when confronted with the actions of the Trump administration,” Liu said from Europe in a speech that was broadcast on the YouTube channel of China’s English-language broadcaster CGTN.

“Huawei is becoming the victim of bullying by the U.S. administration. This is not just an attack against Huawei, it is an attack on the liberal rules-based order and this is dangerous,” said Liu.

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China has anywhere from 1 million to 3 million Muslims currently in the country’s concentration camps, making Liu’s comments a bit rich, given the context.

“Now it is happening to Huawei, tomorrow it can happen to any other international company,” said Liu.

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Update, 11:57 AM ET: This article has been updated to make it more clear that Google is simply following an order from the U.S. government.

Matt Novak is the editor of Gizmodo's Paleofuture blog

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DISCUSSION

jetstreamer
Jetstreamer

Wait, I thought we were talking about tech here... How did you make the jump to muslim imprisonment? And how is it relevant? I mean if we go in this direction we can start opening other cans of worms and see who comes out looking pretty, and I guess it is neither going to be China or the US.

I am not a Huawei user, I don’t believe I have ever done more than hold one of their phone models in a shop. I’ve yet to see any proof of their spying for the Chinese, while it has been proven time and time again the US spies on whatever the fuck they want, however the fuck they want.

So there is an argument to be made that the Huawei spokesperson might possibly perhaps be right here. This argument is not simply gone by saying “Yeah but your government does bad shit to a minority group”. Ahem, minority group... US... People of color... Hmm.