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The US is making it even harder for Huawei phones to get Android updates

The US is making it even harder for Huawei phones to get Android updates


The Trump administration isn’t renewing a temporary license for those already using Huawei equipment

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Illustration by William Joel / The Verge

The Trump administration is further tightening restrictions on Chinese phone manufacturer Huawei, making it more difficult for the company to get chips for its devices. And a temporary general license that offered a reprieve for Huawei customers has now expired and won’t be extended, making it harder for older Huawei devices to receive Android updates from Google.

The US Commerce Department said on Monday that it will permit “ongoing security research critical to maintaining the integrity and reliability of existing and currently fully operational networks and equipment” by enacting a limited permanent authorization for Huawei entities. In addition to allowing Huawei devices sold before May 16th, 2019, get Android updates, the temporary license covered many rural telecommunications companies that used Huawei equipment. Those companies will now have to apply for licenses for previously authorized transactions, according to a Reuters report.

“As we have restricted its access to U.S. technology, Huawei and its affiliates have worked through third parties to harness U.S. technology in a manner that undermines U.S. national security and foreign policy interests,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement Monday.

The Trump administration placed Huawei and 114 of its affiliates on its Entity List in May 2019, which meant US firms were unable to sell technology to the company without explicit US government approval. The president later extended the ban until 2021, citing the International Emergency Economic Powers Act to justify it. The order prevented US companies like Google from doing business with Huawei, preventing Huawei from being able to obtain an Android license and keeping Google apps off of Huawei devices.

Then in May, the Commerce Department issued an amended export rule to block shipments of semiconductors to Huawei to “strategically target Huawei’s acquisition of semiconductors that are the direct product of certain US software and technology.”

That rule prevented foreign manufacturers of semiconductors that use American software and technology in their operations from shipping their products to Huawei unless they first received a license from the US.

Huawei said earlier this month that it’s running out of processor chips because of the US sanctions, and as of September, the company will no longer be able to make its own Kirin chipsets due to the ongoing economic pressure.

The administration said it is adding 38 Huawei affiliates in 21 countries to its blacklist, bringing the total to 152 affiliates.