Espionage on Xiaomi phones? Manufacturer responds to allegations

A Forbes article warns that Xiaomi smartphones collect and share user data. Xiaomi is now responding to the allegations.

In a April 30 report, Forbes warns that Xiaomi is recording usage data from millions of smartphone users. What is behind the allegations and how does Xiaomi react to them?

Loud Forbes The observations of security researchers showed that both the default browser preinstalled on Xiaomi smartphones and the Mi Browser Pro and Mint Browser from Xiaomi, which are available in the Google Play Store, collect data on visited websites and search queries. And apparently also in incognito mode.

In addition, according to the analyzes, Xiaomi smartphones also record which folders and screens were opened. Device information was also queried, through which the data could possibly be assigned to a user. The data collected was sent to a server hosted by Alibaba that Xiaomi rented.

Further investigations showed that the data was transmitted encrypted, but the encryption was easy to crack. This enabled the researchers to read blocks of information from the transmitted data and quickly understand which data was sent from the smartphone.

Xiaomi responds to allegations

Xiaomi has now responded to the allegations made in the Forbes article. In one Blog post the manufacturer emphasized that data protection and user safety were top priority. The company adheres strictly to the laws and regulations for protecting the privacy of users in the countries in which it operates.

With user consent, Xiaomi collects anonymized data to improve the user experience. This includes system information, settings, responsiveness and crash reports. The data is used for internal analysis and, according to Xiaomi, is collected in an aggregated form so that it cannot be attributed to individual users.

The individual browser history is only synchronized if the user is logged into his Mi account and data synchronization is activated in the settings. This is done, for example, in order to synchronize the opened websites between several devices of a user.

According to Xiaomi, browser data is not synchronized in incognito mode. However, aggregated usage data continues to be collected for statistical purposes. This includes, for example, URLs that Xiaomi uses to evaluate which websites load slowly. This should improve the general browser performance.

In an update for its browsers that is now available, Xiaomi has now introduced an option that also enables the aggregated data collection to be deactivated in incognito mode. This on / off switch should be included in the Mi Browser / Mi Browser Pro in version 12.1.4 and in Mint Browser version 3.4.3.

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About the Author: Jan Gruber

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