Google Facing U.S. Pressure Over Huawei Partnership

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A number of United States legislators are pressuring Google over its partnership with Huawei, having urged the company to reconsider its collaboration with a firm that numerous stateside agencies and legislators have been labeling a national security threat since the turn of the century. In a bipartisan letter penned to Google Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai earlier this week, several lawmakers questioned the company's decision to discontinue its polarizing AI initiative with the U.S. Department of Defense while simultaneously continuing its close collaboration with Huawei, a company with close ties to the People's Republic of China founded by a former top engineer of the People's Liberation Army.

Republican Senators Tom Cotton and Marco Rubio, Democratic Representative Dutch Ruppersberger, Republican Representatives Michael Conaway and Liz Cheney expressed disappointment over Google's decision to scrap Project Maven in light of its continued R&D efforts with Huawei, asking how the Mountain View, California-based company can justify such corporate priorities. A Google spokesperson said the firm's agreement with Huawei is identical to the ones previously signed with a dozen other original equipment manufacturers, asserting the Chinese tech giant doesn't enjoy preferential treatment of privileged access to its data. Regardless, Google will address the lawmakers' concerns in the near future, as per the same official.

Huawei's long history of issues with the U.S. government once again came to light in January after AT&T was pressured to drop its plan to carry the firm's Mate 10 Pro Android flagship, a move that would provide the Shenzhen-based company with a major entry point into the world's largest market for high-end handsets. Huawei and ZTE are presently also being targeted by a Senate-approved amendment to a must-pass defense bill that would eliminate any possibility of either manufacturer scoring federal contracts, in addition to effectively bankrupting the recently sanctioned telecom equipment maker. Both Huawei and ZTE repeatedly dismissed allegations that Beijing was, is, or could be using them as spying tools.

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