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<title>Three conclusions to draw from Google denying Huawei access to software</title>
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<h1>
Three conclusions to draw from Google denying Huawei access to software
</h1>
<p newsteaser="yes">Google denies the Chinese IT giant Huawei access to
Google's proprietary components of the Android mobile operating system
which threatens IT security. This highlights the importance Free
Software has for technology users, public bodies, and businesses. The
Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) presents three essential lessons
from this case.</p>
<p>Following the U.S. administration's decision to effectively ban
American companies from trading with with the Chinese company Huawei,
Google suspended all business with the company. This affects all
software which is not covered under Free Software licences. In
practice, Huawei's upcoming and potentially also current phones will no
longer get support and updates for the Android operating system. They
will also not have access to the proprietary Google apps and services
like Gmail and Google Play. Although proprietary software should be
avoided in the first place, especially the latter will put future
Huawei user at risk because without access to the default app store on
most stock Android phones they will miss important security updates for
the apps installed through it.</p>
<p>Google offers only a base version of Android under a Free Software
licence but bundles it together with proprietary apps and services. The
non-free components of most stock Android devices have numerous
downsides for users, as the <a href="https://freeyourandroid.org">FSFE
has documented since 2012</a>. Now, the current case demonstrates that
even tech giants like Huawei face similar dependencies and vendor
lock-in effects as those of any individual users if they rely on proprietary
software.</p>
<h2>Three Conclusions</h2>
<p>The following lessons can be drawn from this case:</p>
<ol>
<li>The FSFE urges <strong>users</strong> to use Free Software
operating systems and applications on their computing devices. With
proprietary software, they are on the receiving end only and vendors
may deny them access to crucial security updates if the vendor or a
government changes its strategy. Free Software enables control of
technology, and the more important that technology becomes in our
daily lives, the more relevant Free Software becomes for users. For
Android, the FSFE helps users to regain more control with its <a
href="https://freeyourandroid.org">Free Your Android
initiative</a>.</li>
<br />
<li><strong>Governments and especially the European Union</strong>
should invest more resources in Free Software to gain independence
from large enterprises and other states. The current case highlights
the lack of influence the EU has on outside technology providers.
Instead of waiting for a future European IT monopolist to enter the
stage, the EU and its members states should <a
href="https://publiccode.eu">invest in Free Software development</a>
and focus on supporting local Free Software organisations as well as
businesses. This would effectively foster the inner-European market
and enable independence for European citizens and the EU economy.
This step is essential for avoiding exposing European infrastructure
to shutdowns controlled by external factors.</li>
<br />
<li>The FSFE urges <strong>companies</strong> to use as much Free
Software as possible in their supply chains. Proprietary software
makes a company dependent on its vendor and that vendor's government.
The current case shows that the US was able to force Google to stop
delivery of its proprietary products – but could not stop delivery of
the Free Software components of Android. Had Huawei invested more
resources in Free Software apps and services, the US strategy would
not have hit them as hard. Although the current events are linked to
the scrutiny the Chinese company is under right now, it is obvious
that this could happen to any other company based in any other
country as well.</li>
</ol>
<p>The earlier allegations against Huawei already showed that <a
href="/news/2019/news-20190205-01.html">code for all critical
infrastructure should be published under a Free Software licence</a>.
The latest episode of the Huawei affair illustrates that the same
applies to apps and services. Just days before the European Elections,
this should be a wake-up call for the next constituent Parliament to
ask the European Commission for European directives that foster
independence of European technical infrastructure and that build on
Free Software, starting with the <a href="https://publiccode.eu">demand
to release publicly funded software as public code</a>.</p>
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<tags>
<tag>front-page</tag>
<tag content="IT Security">security</tag>
<tag content="Public Code">pmpc</tag>
<tag content="Huawei">huawei</tag>
<tag content="Free Your Androud">fya</tag>
</tags>
<discussion href="https://community.fsfe.org/t/three-conclusions-to-draw-from-google-denying-huawei-access-to-software/278" />
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