Taiwan moves to scrutinize Huawei after Android ban

 Taiwan moves to scrutinize Huawei after Android ban

Huawei’s distributor in Taiwan must explain whether its customers can receive updates from Google Play Store and Android operating system, Taiwan’s National Communications Commission and consumer rights group have urged.

The commission also said the Taiwan branch of the Chinese telecommunications giant should reveal information about how it would plan to protect its smartphone users on the island, now that Google parent Alphabet Inc had stopped providing it with vital software updates.

Google last week said that it has blocked the Shenzhen-based telecoms device and smartphone maker from accessing updates, such as YouTube and Google Maps, after the Trump administration added Huawei to a trade blacklist, banning US firms from selling components and software to it on national security grounds. Still, the US Department of Commerce gave US companies conducting business with Huawei a 90-day reprieve before the ban takes effect.

People queue up outside a Huawei store in Taipei prior to a new product launch event. Photo: Facebook

Taiwanese papers reported that the island’s telecoms watchdog met with representatives from Xunwei Technologies Co – Huawei’s exclusive distributor – to discuss potential issues that could arise from the US ban. Reports said Huawei was prodded to set aside funds to compensate its smartphone users or risk a blanket ban against all business and research operations on the island.

An official with the telecoms commission said it pursued the matter about what Huawei would plan to protect the interests of users of its smartphones and other devices, stressing that Huawei and its local partners must inform consumers whether they would be able to receive Android updates as well as updates for apps, even though Huawei had sought to assure customers overseas that the US ban would never affect devices already sold or in use.

In a statement, Huawei insisted that it had made significant contributions to the development of Android, which is open source software, and that the system as well as all of its features and updates must remain accessible to all companies and users.

The fresh scrutiny by the telecoms commission came after Taiwan purged its government procurement market of Huawei’s gear or any device from another company that might contain chips, components or software made by the Chinese firm. Taiwan has also banned telecoms carriers from using core network equipment manufactured by Huawei.

The US government is also considering blacklisting Hangzhou-based Hikvision Digital Technology, the world’s largest supplier of video surveillance cameras and related software and products. Taiwan is reportedly planning a new check of its government agencies and public institutes to take offline any Hikvision products.