Chinese smartphone brand Xiaomi has refuted a news report that accused the company of infringing on the privacy of its phone users by recording their “private” web and phone use habits.
Quoting cybersecurity researchers, Forbes reported this week that one researcher Gabi Cirlig found that his Redmi Note 8 smartphone was watching almost everything that he was doing on the phone.
Forbes asked another cybersecurity researcher, Andrew Tierney, to investigate the issues further, who allegedly found that browsers shipped by Xiaomi on Google Play — Mi Browser Pro and the Mint Browser — were recording the same data.
“A news report claims that Mi Browser collects unnecessary information while browsing and sends the user data to other countries. This is incorrect and not true,” Manu Jain, Vice President, Xiaomi and Managing Director, Xiaomi India, said in a statement.
Xiaomi said that its users’ privacy and security are of top priority.
“We strictly follow and are fully compliant with user privacy protection laws and regulations in the countries and regions we operate in,” the company stressed.
While collecting user data is not unusual for Internet companies, they are supposed to do so with the permission of users in order to offer them better services. But the data is supposed to remain anonymised so that the identity of the user remains hidden.
In a separate blog post, Xiaomi said all collected usage data is based on permission and consent given explicitly by our users.
“Additionally, we ensure the whole process is anonymous and encrypted. The collection of aggregated usage statistics data is used for internal analysis, and we do not link any personally identifiable information to any of this data,” said the company.
Xiaomi said it hosts information on a public cloud infrastructure that is common and well known in the industry.
“All information from our overseas services and users is stored on servers in various overseas markets where local user privacy protection laws and regulations are strictly followed and with which we fully comply,” it explained.
Jain said that using Mi Browser or any Mi Internet product is perfectly safe and “we do not collect any information that the user has not given explicit consent to”.
“All Mi Browser and Mi Cloud data of Indian users is stored locally in AWS servers in India,” he added.