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  1. <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
  2. <html newsdate="2019-05-20">
  3. <head>
  4. <title>Three conclusions to draw from Google denying Huawei access to software</title>
  5. <meta name="image" content="https://fsfe.org/picturebase/campaigns/pmpc/201902-pmpc-security-blackbox.jpg" />
  6. </head>
  7. <body>
  8. <h1>
  9. Three conclusions to draw from Google denying Huawei access to software
  10. </h1>
  11. <p newsteaser="yes">Google denies the Chinese IT giant Huawei access to
  12. Google's proprietary components of the Android mobile operating system
  13. which threatens IT security. This highlights the importance Free
  14. Software has for technology users, public bodies, and businesses. The
  15. Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) presents three essential lessons
  16. from this case.</p>
  17. <p>Following the U.S. administration's decision to effectively ban
  18. American companies from trading with with the Chinese company Huawei,
  19. Google suspended all business with the company. This affects all
  20. software which is not covered under Free Software licences. In
  21. practice, Huawei's upcoming and potentially also current phones will no
  22. longer get support and updates for the Android operating system. They
  23. will also not have access to the proprietary Google apps and services
  24. like Gmail and Google Play. Although proprietary software should be
  25. avoided in the first place, especially the latter will put future
  26. Huawei user at risk because without access to the default app store on
  27. most stock Android phones they will miss important security updates for
  28. the apps installed through it.</p>
  29. <p>Google offers only a base version of Android under a Free Software
  30. licence but bundles it together with proprietary apps and services. The
  31. non-free components of most stock Android devices have numerous
  32. downsides for users, as the <a href="https://freeyourandroid.org">FSFE
  33. has documented since 2012</a>. Now, the current case demonstrates that
  34. even tech giants like Huawei face similar dependencies and vendor
  35. lock-in effects as those of any individual users if they rely on proprietary
  36. software.</p>
  37. <h2>Three Conclusions</h2>
  38. <p>The following lessons can be drawn from this case:</p>
  39. <ol>
  40. <li>The FSFE urges <strong>users</strong> to use Free Software
  41. operating systems and applications on their computing devices. With
  42. proprietary software, they are on the receiving end only and vendors
  43. may deny them access to crucial security updates if the vendor or a
  44. government changes its strategy. Free Software enables control of
  45. technology, and the more important that technology becomes in our
  46. daily lives, the more relevant Free Software becomes for users. For
  47. Android, the FSFE helps users to regain more control with its <a
  48. href="https://freeyourandroid.org">Free Your Android
  49. initiative</a>.</li>
  50. <br />
  51. <li><strong>Governments and especially the European Union</strong>
  52. should invest more resources in Free Software to gain independence
  53. from large enterprises and other states. The current case highlights
  54. the lack of influence the EU has on outside technology providers.
  55. Instead of waiting for a future European IT monopolist to enter the
  56. stage, the EU and its members states should <a
  57. href="https://publiccode.eu">invest in Free Software development</a>
  58. and focus on supporting local Free Software organisations as well as
  59. businesses. This would effectively foster the inner-European market
  60. and enable independence for European citizens and the EU economy.
  61. This step is essential for avoiding exposing European infrastructure
  62. to shutdowns controlled by external factors.</li>
  63. <br />
  64. <li>The FSFE urges <strong>companies</strong> to use as much Free
  65. Software as possible in their supply chains. Proprietary software
  66. makes a company dependent on its vendor and that vendor's government.
  67. The current case shows that the US was able to force Google to stop
  68. delivery of its proprietary products – but could not stop delivery of
  69. the Free Software components of Android. Had Huawei invested more
  70. resources in Free Software apps and services, the US strategy would
  71. not have hit them as hard. Although the current events are linked to
  72. the scrutiny the Chinese company is under right now, it is obvious
  73. that this could happen to any other company based in any other
  74. country as well.</li>
  75. </ol>
  76. <p>The earlier allegations against Huawei already showed that <a
  77. href="/news/2019/news-20190205-01.html">code for all critical
  78. infrastructure should be published under a Free Software licence</a>.
  79. The latest episode of the Huawei affair illustrates that the same
  80. applies to apps and services. Just days before the European Elections,
  81. this should be a wake-up call for the next constituent Parliament to
  82. ask the European Commission for European directives that foster
  83. independence of European technical infrastructure and that build on
  84. Free Software, starting with the <a href="https://publiccode.eu">demand
  85. to release publicly funded software as public code</a>.</p>
  86. </body>
  87. <tags>
  88. <tag>front-page</tag>
  89. <tag content="IT Security">security</tag>
  90. <tag content="Public Code">pmpc</tag>
  91. <tag content="Huawei">huawei</tag>
  92. <tag content="Free Your Androud">fya</tag>
  93. </tags>
  94. <discussion href="https://community.fsfe.org/t/three-conclusions-to-draw-from-google-denying-huawei-access-to-software/278" />
  95. </html>
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