Thursday, 21 June 2018 11:13

US politicians urge Google to cut ties with Huawei Featured


Five US politicians have written to Google chief executive Sundar Pichai, urging him to cut ties to the Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei Technologies, and pointing out that while Google is unwilling to help the US military, it is apparently willing to co-operate with the Chinese Communist Party.

The reference to the US military was about Google saying it would not be renewing a deal to help the Pentagon improve its drone targeting, a project known as Project Maven. Its employees had taken issue with the company over its involvement and some had quit in protest.

The letter was published by the American website Cyberscoop.

Earlier this month it was reported that legislators were looking at the deal between Google and Huawei to upgrade smartphone capabilities that run Google's Android mobile operating system.

The five politicians are Representatives Michael Conaway (Republican – Texas), Liz Cheney (Republican – Wyoming) and Dutch Ruppersberger (Democrat – Maryland) and Senators Tom Cotton (Republic – Arkansas) and Marco Rubio (Republican – Florida).

Both Cotton and Conaway have introduced bills in the US Senate and House respectively to beef up restrictions on the sale of Huawei's telecommunications gear in the US.

They claimed that Chinese telecommunications companies had extensive ties with the Communist Party and Google's "strategic partnership" with Huawei "could pose a serious risk to US national security and American consumers".

Huawei has repeatedly denied that it has been in any way involved in espionage on behalf of the Chinese Government.

The five went over a lot of old ground about US allegations about Huawei. They also added that a former US intelligence officer who had been charged with spying for China has used Huawei technology to communicate with his handlers.

According to a published report, the man in question, Ron Rockwell Hansen, a former employee of the Defence Intelligence Agency, had two mobile phones, made by Xanda and Huawei, in his possession which he used to communicate with Chinese security officials.

Referring to Google's decision not to renew its involvement with Project Maven, the letter said: "We urge you to reconsider Google's partnership with Huawei, particularly since your company recently refused to renew a key research partnership, Project Maven, with the Department of Defence."

It said they were disappointed that "Google did not want to continue a long and fruitful tradition of collaboration between the military and technology companies", and "even more disappointed that Google apparently is more willing to support the Chinese Communist Party than the US military."

Earlier this month, Facebook said it would be ending its deals with Huawei, Lenovo, Oppo and TCL, following a report about these relationships in The New York Times.

Comment has been sought from Huawei.

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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