Xiaomi has been getting a lot of press lately, with the young China upstart disrupting the mobile phone industry with its portfolio of high spec, priced-to-beat phones and accessories. As exposed by OCWorkbench recently though, the company has been allegedly sending data back to a China server from Redmi Note devices, unknown by their users.
It isn’t unusual for our smartphones to occasionally send packets of info back to servers in the advent of cloud and messaging services, and the day and age of OTA (over the air) updates.
However, RedMi Note user Kenny Li in his post in a Hong Kong-based IMA Mobile discussion group, reported that his phone had been sending data to an IP address in China. This happened when the phone was operating in Wi-Fi mode. In 3G mode, on the other hand, it was just a handshake.
A shocking revelation was that the background transmission continues even after Li had rooted the phone and flashed it with another firmware. Is the data transmission activity hardcoded into the phone? Perhaps.
Li discovered that his Redmi Note was seemingly sending photos from media storage. Additionally, his SMS and messages were also getting channeled to the Chinese server. Could it be the phone making a backup of data without explicit permission from the user? To be clear, Xiaomi’s Mi Cloud service was never turned on during the test.
If true that Xiaomi is pushing data to its servers without consent, this may have serious legal implications.
“MIUI does not secretly upload photos and text messages,” the statement read, “MIUI requests public data from Xiaomi servers from time to time. These include data such as preset greeting messages in the Messaging app and MIUI OTA update notifications.”
Its Mi Cloud service is turned off by default, and requires users to login manually to turn the service on.
“We do not upload any personal information and data without the permission of users. In a globalized economy, Chinese manufacturers’ handsets are selling well internationally, and many international brands are similarly successful in China – any unlawful activity would be greatly detrimental to a company’s global expansion efforts.”