Friday, 08 June 2018 08:12

US pollies want to examine Google-Huawei deals Featured

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Politicians in the US have started taking a close look at the relationship between search behemoth Google and Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei, with the move coming soon after Google said it would not be renewing a deal to help the Pentagon improve its drone targeting.

The Wall Street Journal  reported that the legislators were looking at the deal between the two companies to upgrade smartphone capabilities that run Google's Android mobile operating system.

Google and Huawei cut a deal to upgrade the messaging technology on smartphones made by Huawei to use a newer technology known as RCS, instead of the older SMS technology. RCS processes images and video much better but does not give any more access to user data.

The report comes soon after Facebook said it would be ending a deal with Huawei, Lenovo, Oppo and TCL, following a report about these relationships in The New York Times.

Huawei faced problems in the US in January, with a deal for AT&T to sell its phones on plans being cancelled at the last minute.

And following this, Verizon was reported to have yielded to pressure from the US Government to stop selling Huawei devices. In February, US intelligence chiefs warned against the use of Huawei equipment.

Huawei has repeatedly denied that it has been in any way involved in espionage on behalf of the Chinese Government. On Monday, the company's Australia chairman, John Lord, made a strong defence of the company's operations during an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Radio National.

The WSJ said the legislators who were making this move included some of the bigger critics of Huawei, including Republican Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Republican Senator Mike Conaway of Texas. Both have introduced bills in the US Senate and House to beef up restrictions on the sale of Huawei's telecommunications gear in the US.

Democrat Senator Mark Warner of Virginia sent a letter to Alphabet, the parent company of Google, and Twitter on Thursday asking the two companies if they had any data=sharing deals with Chinese companies.

Also sought was information about any collaboration with Chinese smartphone vendor Xiaomi and multinational conglomerate Tencent.

In April, it was reported that the US Justice Department was investigating whether Huawei has violated US sanctions on Iran.

On Friday, it was reported that another Chinese telecommunications firm, ZTE, had cut a deal with the US Commerce Department to resume business in the US. The company had ceased its operations, following a ban on the use of American components.

iTWire has contacted Huawei and Google for comment.

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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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