Google has published an explainer aimed to clarify the ongoing situation with Huawei, which has been on the US Department of Commerce’s blacklist since last year.
In the post, Tristan Ostrowski, legal director for Android and Google Play, recalled that Google is banned from working with Huawei “on new device models or providing Google’s apps including Gmail, Maps, YouTube, the Play Store and others for preload or download on these devices.”
While stopping short of speculating whether Huawei poses any threat to US national security, Ostrowski instead focused on “protecting the security of Google users on the millions of existing Huawei devices around the world”.
He noted that his company “continued to work with Huawei, in compliance with government regulations, to provide security updates and updates to Google’s apps and services on existing devices” and that they will “continue to do so as long as it is permitted”.
In this vein, Ostrowski recalled that US legislation currently allows Google “to only work with Huawei on device models available to the public on or before 16 May 2019”.
He added that US government restrictions stipulate that Google’s apps and services will not be available “for preload or sideload” on new Huawei smartphones which are considered “uncertified”.
Ostrowski warned that “sideloaded Google apps will not work reliably because we do not allow these services to run on uncertified devices where security may be compromised” and that “sideloading Google’s apps also carries a high risk of installing an app that has been altered or tampered with in ways that can compromise user security”.
He explained that all those users who want to check if their devices are certified should open the Google Play Store app on their Android phones, tap “Menu” and look for “settings”. It will help them find out whether their devices are certified under “Play Protect certification”, Ostrowski concluded.
US Clampdown on Huawei
His remarks come amid the ongoing US crackdown on the Chinese tech giant, which kicked off in May 2019, when the US Department of Commerce prohibited internet providers from using Huawei products and US tech companies from selling technologies (hardware and software) to Huawei without obtaining a special licence first.
The US claims that Huawei is working with the Chinese government to allow the latter to spy on those who use the tech giant's equipment.
Beijing and Huawei vehemently deny these claims, with the tech giant vowing to combat the US move in court.