Forcing China to Fill the Google Gap

May 20, 2019

I read the Reuters’ exclusive “Google Suspends Some Business with Huawei after Trump Blacklist – source.” The news story presents some information which on the surface is interesting. Google allegedly has “suspended business with Huawei.” There is a caveat; namely, “except those publicly available via open source licensing.” Huawei mobile phone users can chug along for now. Reuters quotes an unnamed source in the rich tradition of “real news.” The source allegedly said:

“Huawei will only be able to use the public version of Android and will not be able to get access to proprietary apps and services from Google.

The number of blog posts and “real” news stories about this Google move is intriguing. Most of these follow the standard impact on business, what about the users, and whither Android lines.

My thought is that innovation often is a result of adversity. If I narrow my focus to topics related to intelligence analysis and a bit of the lawlful intercept activity, this development could have some unintended consequences. Put aside fears of more industrial espionage, hassling of Google and other US firms as a retaliatory measure, and the grousing of US companies faced with losing Huawei and its suppliers as customers.

Chinese engineers may turn their attention from reasonably effective facial recognition and surveillance systems to the job of moving beyond Google’s technology, creating parallels for some US technologies, and innovating in ways to lock out prying eyes from certain types of data transmissions.

The thrill of making life difficult for Huawei and demonstrating that Google is on board with US trade policies may be short lived. Maybe China moves some of its more interesting technology into the “Google gap”? Perhaps China steps up the for functionalities no longer easily available? What if China finds a way to shut certain mechanisms for monitoring information shoved around by Huawei and other Chinese vendors’ equipment?

The unintended consequence is that the US and possibly some of its allies will be forced to become more technologically innovative.

The big question for me is: “What if this is the turning point for Chinese technology?” China could force the US to become makers of buggy whips and seat covers for the new communication vehicles which may come down the information superhighway.

That’s a big and unintended consequence to consider in my opinion.

Stephen E Arnold, May 20, 2019

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