Huawei’s Android License Revoked by Google, Leaving Them to Use Open-Source Version

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These days everything and everyone seems to somehow get political – it’s hard to avoid. It’s even affected our technology, as an executive order was signed that grants the United States government the power to decide which foreign-produced telecommunications equipment is a potential national security risk and to then block U.S. companies from buying that equipment.

The problem is that it will be affecting the consumers, perhaps people that don’t even have an interest in politics. It has now led to Google revoking Huawei’s Android license, meaning their customers will have to make do with an open-source version of Android.

Android License Revoked

While initially no companies were called out as a potential threat in the executive order, everyone still assumed from the beginning that it was targeting Huawei because of a trade war going on between the leaders of the U.S. and China.

The U.S. government believes China’s government could install backdoors on Huawei devices to spy on American networks. While the company has denied this could happen, Huawei CEO and founder Ren Zhengfe, has said the executive order will not stop his company’s international growth.

Eventually, Huawei did appear on the U.S. Commerce Department’s “Entity List,” which is comprised of companies that aren’t able to buy tech from U.S. companies unless they get government approval.

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A Google spokesperson stated they “are complying with the order and reviewing the implications.”

Because Google is complying with the order and revoked Huawei’s Android license, the Chinese company is restricted to using the Android Open Source Project (AOSP). That means those outside of China don’t have the availability of key Google apps and services that they’re accustomed to on Android devices.

Additionally, Huawei can only push security updates for the system once they’re available in AOSP. It’s unknown how deeply this will affect Huawei’s overall integration with Android, but it seems at this point that it will be significant.

Even before the executive order, U.S. intelligence had warned its citizens against using Huawei and ZTE (another Chinese tech company) devices, with some politicians believing Huawei to be “effectively an arm of the Chinese government.”

The Future of Huawei

While Huawei has been on the scene for more than thirty years, they haven’t been that recognizable, in the U.S. at least, until more recently, but they seem to have made a huge splash by this point.

But being locked out by Google because of the trade war could severely affect their business. Do you think the company will survive despite this setback? Add your thoughts to the comments below.

12 comments

  1. “an executive order was signed that grants the United States government the power to decide which foreign-produced telecommunications equipment is a potential national security risk and to then block U.S. companies from buying that equipment.”
    What is wrong with that? Isn’t it the job of the government to protect itself and its citizens from enemies foreign and domestic?

    “The problem is that it will be affecting the consumers, perhaps people that don’t even have an interest in politics.”
    And how inconvenient is it going to be for consumers if national security is compromised? If their devices are nothing more than information harvesting machines that send that information to a hostile government? There comes a time when the welfare and the rights of the whole supersede the welfare and the rights of an individual.

    “The U.S. government believes China’s government could install backdoors on Huawei devices to spy on American networks.”
    US government ought to know. They are insisting that backdoors be installed in all software written in the US, ostensibly to enable the alphabet agencies to “prevent a terrorist activity.” Isn’t it to be expected that the government of China, as well as other countries, would use the same tactics?

    “But being locked out by Google because of the trade war could severely affect their business. ”
    This is the perfect opportunity for Huawei to develop a pure open source O/S (Linux) for their phones.

  2. It’s all down to that egocentric, paranoid, techno-ignoramus called Trump. That man doesn’t care just how much disruption he causes, if it satisfies his ever-growing ego. Seems to think he can stamp over anything and everybody for his own ends. It’s about time he was ousted, one way or the other…..and, yes – I DO have a Huawei phone. Jolly good value, too, although I fear for not much longer. By the way – I’m hopping mad. Just sayin’.

    1. Not too much of a Trump-hater, are you?

      Why would Trump pick specifically on Huawei? There are hundreds of other Chinese companies.

      1. “Why would Trump pick specifically on Huawei”

        Because he’s accusing Huawei, specifically, of violating sanctions against Iran (Iraq? One of them, can’t remember which right at the moment). In fact, he has such a thing for Huawei that he somehow managed to sucker the Canadian government into arresting Huawei’s CEO’s daughter, even though she’s done nothing wrong/illegal in Canada. Worse, he wanted Canada to hold her in jail without bail for the entire 30 (60?) days he had to decide if he really wanted to extradite her to the US…hoping that just the threat of extradition to/trial in the US would be enough to have Huawei/China stop violating the sanctions.

        His plan backfired, of course. The day after the arrest of the daughter, China started arresting Canadian citizens that were in China, accusing them of espionage. Shortly after that, China cancelled huge orders of Canadian canola seeds right before planting season started, creating massive problems for Canadian farmers…do they plant canola seeds as usual and hope they can sell them elsewhere or that China changes its mind? Or do they plant something else instead…and if so, what? Sadly, the Canadian government can’t see that 1 + 1 = 2 and that what China is doing to Canada and her citizens is in direct retaliation to having arrested Huawei’s CEO’s daughter for no reason at all. If the government would simply release the daughter and let her return to China, China’s “sanctions” against Canada would most likely end overnight.

      2. Dragonmouth

        Do you honestly support that dick faced baboon called Trump? For Christ sake he’s out to destroy everything.

        1. Without getting into political rhetoric and name calling, exactly what “everything” is Trump out to destroy? The ability of the Chinese government and companies to spy on American people and industry? It is incumbent on ANY President to protect US inhabitants against foreign aggression, be it physical or electronic. If previous Presidents played nicey-nice with China and other governments to the detriment of the US, maybe they should be held criminally liable for their actions.

          Trump is the duly elected President. If you are dissatisfied with his performance you will have a chance to elect someone else in 2020. If you are in a hurry, convince Congress to impeach Trump. At the present moment, in spite of all the rhetoric, hot air and saber rattling, Congress is not ready, willing or able to do that.

          No, I did not vote for the “dick faced baboon” but neither did I vote for the “Pig in a Pants Suit”.

  3. I do not have a “huaway”, but I will celebrate the release from this giant snitch named “Google”.

  4. The moment Huawei goes AOSP, I’m getting a phone from them! It will save me all the efforts each time to root and to get rid of all Google!!!

    1. You can’t “get rid of all Google”…the OS itself, Android, is made by Google (hence ‘Google phone’) and thus, like everything else made by Google, is spyware. The only way to completely get rid of Google on your Google phone is to get rid of the OS…and then your Google phone no longer works.

      That’s what you get when you buy a Google phone!

      1. “You can’t “get rid of all Google”…the OS itself, Android, is made by Google (hence ‘Google phone’)”
        The situation is analogous to when Microsoft forced m/b manufacturers to make sure that those m/b worked only with Windows. Unfortunately for MS, work-around have been developed.

        There already exist independently developed open-source O/Ss (ex. UBports) that work on “Android” phones. It sure would be a kick in Google’s ass if Huawei developed an independent O/S for their phones. Apparently Google is unwilling to lose Huawei as its client as evidenced by the reversal of their decision.

        “That’s what you get when you buy a Google phone!”
        That is the situation with any smartphone. No matter which one you buy, you are locked into a vendor, Google, Apple or Microsoft.

  5. Laura: I realize you probably wrote this article yesterday so it’d be ready to go first thing today, but you should note that at some point, Google reversed this decision. Apparently, the US government decided to be a little “Charlie Brown” and put a 90 day delay on the ban. I’m not quite sure if the delay is Huawei-specific or applies across the board…but there’s nothing like a government being wishy-washy to inspire confidence in its citizens :-(

    1. Yes, you are 100% correct. When I wrote the article that news had not been release. I wouldn’t call it a reverse of the decision, but yes a delay giving U.S. and China time to work things out. Not that anyone is holding their breath.

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