Xiaomi responds to privacy concerns by making cloud messaging opt-in

Xiaomi is one of the fastest growing tech companies in China, but the phone maker has come under scrutiny from several reports in recent works that suggest the company’s phones may be violating users’ privacy.

In July a user noted that Xiaomi phones were sending data to Chinese servers, and this past week security firm F-Secure confirmed that Xiaomi phones send data to Xiaomi’s servers whether you sign up for the company’s cloud-based services or not.

Now Xiaomi is responding with a software update that changes the default behavior of its phones.

redmi note

Plenty of phones communicate with cloud servers — most Android phones send data to Google’s servers for messaging, Maps, Google Play Store, and other purposes. But many phones sold in China (including Xiaomi’s handsets) ship without Google’s services. Instead Xiaomi’s phones use the company’s own cloud services… and Xiaomi’s Hugo Barra explains that the reason folks have been noticing their phones communicating with Xiaomi servers is that out-of-the-box the phones have Xiaomi’s cloud messaging service enabled whether a user wants to use it or not.

In response to privacy concerns, Xiaomi is changing that with a software update that should start rolling out today.

In other words, users will no longer have to go out of their way to disable cloud messaging. They’ll have to actively enable it to user the service. And that should mean that users won’t see photos, contact details, or IMEI info shared with Xiaomi’s servers in China unless they opt-in.

The move could help address some privacy concerns as Xiaomi expands from a Chinese company to one with global ambitions. While Xiaomi doesn’t yet sell its phones in the US or Europe, the device maker has started selling phones in Singapore, India, and has plans to expand to other markets in the next year or two.

via reddit

  • Nighty

    Does anyone know when their routers are coming out?

  • Rabidmob

    I’ve often had this concern with Chinese made stuff. I wonder if other devices have similar issues or back doors.

    • vasras

      What does it matter compared to US made stuff.

      Everything send to/by or sold by Apple/MS/Google/Oracle is read, stored and indexed by NSA + CIA + FBI + DHS + GCHQ .

      You are just changing nationalities with Xiaomi.

      Also, Chinese do not yet put people on no-fly lists or drag them without any court order or legal procedings to illegal torture camps.

      I’d take Chinese spying any day over US/UK spying.

      • Labmouse

        In china, when they drag you out of your home or send you to torture and or forced labor camps, it’s perfectly legal. Let’s not forget their treatment of political dissidents (both their own and those of other nations), “forced abortion” policy for their own populace, public execution for non-violent crimes (by firing squad) Machine gunning North Korean refugees attempting to cross the border, frequently working with the North Korean government to allow them to kidnap and bring back those who do manage to escape.

  • David

    Xiaomi makes the best devices you CANNOT buy. So it doesn’t matter…

    • zdanee

      Good thing then I have two :)