U.S. lawmakers have pleaded with Alphabet Inc.’s Google (GOOGL) to reconsider its partnership with Huawei, claiming that the Chinese technology giant "could pose a serious risk to U.S. national security and American consumers.”
In a letter to Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai, reported on by Reuters, Republican and Democrat lawmakers warned that Huawei has “extensive ties” with the Chinese communist party. The lawmakers also criticized Google’s refusal to renew Project Maven, an artificial intelligence research partnership with the Department of Defense. (See also: Why Did Trump Block Broadcom's Bid for Qualcomm?)
"We urge you to reconsider Google's partnership with Huawei, particularly since your company recently refused to renew a key research partnership, Project Maven, with the Department of Defense,” the letter said. “This project uses artificial intelligence to improve the accuracy of U.S. military targeting, not least to reduce civilian casualties.”
The letter added: "While we regret that Google did not want to continue a long and fruitful tradition of collaboration between the military and technology companies, we are even more disappointed that Google apparently is more willing to support the Chinese Communist Party than the U.S. military."
The letter, sent Wednesday, was signed by Republican Senators Tom Cotton and Marco Rubio, Republican Representatives Michael Conaway and Liz Cheney and Democratic Representative Dutch Ruppersberger.
Google spokeswoman Andrea Faville told Reuters that the Mountain View, California-based company is looking forward to responding.
“Like many U.S. companies, we have agreements with dozens of OEMs (manufacturers) around the world, including Huawei,” she said in an emailed statement. “We do not provide special access to Google user data as part of these agreement, and our agreements include privacy and security protections for use data.”
The U.S. government has repeatedly accused Huawei, the third-largest smartphone maker in the world by market share, of working for the Chinese government. In February, intelligence officials urged Americans not to buy Huawei devices because they could be used to spy on users.
Around the same time, lawmakers introduced a new bill banning government agencies from using equipment from Chinese firms such as ZTE and Huawei.
Huawei was previously in talks with AT&T Inc. (T) to sell its phones in the U.S., but the deal eventually fell through amid increasing pressure from the government. Lawmakers also played an important role in stopping Best Buy Co. Inc. (BBY) from selling Huawei devices. (See also: Best Buy Will No Longer Sell Huawei Phones.)
"Over the coming months, the federal government will likely take further measures to defend U.S. telecommunications networks from Huawei and companies like it," the lawmakers' letter said.