Jul 24, 2014

China - Redmi Note may leak data to China

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Chinese-made smartphone Redmi Note allegedly connects automatically to  a mainland Chinese server unbeknownst to users, prompting various concerns regarding personal information being leaked to the communist government.

This was revealed in a Hong Kong cellphone forum.

The phone is part of a line of smartphones launched by Xiaomi Inc., the largest privately owned mainland Chinese electronics company. Headquartered in Beijing, Xiaomi itself designs, develops and sells smartphones, mobile apps and consumer electronics.

Hong Kong cellphone discussion forum IMA-Mobile user Kenny Li said that when the Redmi Note was in Wi-Fi mode, it would connect to a server with an IP address based in mainland China without notifying its user. After connecting to the Chinese server, the phone will upload photos, chat messages and information from the user.

Li said he discovered that even after removing the default software installed by Xiaomi, the Redmi Note would continue the automatic connection and the file uploads.

Reportedly, Li's findings have become a widely debated topic in Taiwanese forums. Taiwanese netizens allegedly attributed the problem to Xiaomi's built-in cloud service, stating that it was not surprising for Chinese-made products to be filled with glitches. However, some netizens also rebuffed the comments, stating that it was suspicious that the Redmi Note would continue to upload files even after a software reinstallation and replacement.

During the public announcement for Xiaomi new smartphone Xiaomi 4, the company addressed and responded to the recent discussions of the Redmi Note's automatic upload function, which connects to a Chinese server.

The company cited its users' agreement policy, stated that no invasion of privacy has ever occurred in their service and said that the alleged user information infringement is false and untrue.

Xiaomi did not, however, dismiss the automatic connection and upload feature and said that Redmi Note does not upload personal information from its users but only calculations of the user's personal preferences so that the company can send appropriate upgrade and app recommendations to their users so as to improve customer service.

The company also said that all phones come with automatic back-up and cloud features disabled, and they will only perform the functions with users' consent. Backed-up information will also not be used by the company or against the user, the company said.

In hopes of further guaranteeing the company's product safety, Xiaomi said that all of their services are in compliance with the privacy laws of the countries in which their products are sold. Complex encryptions and algorithms, the company said, also protect the products themselves.

Chi-hao James Lo

Business & Investment Opportunities 

Saigon Business Corporation Pte Ltd (SBC) is incorporated in Singapore since 1994. 

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