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Throw away Chinese phones, says this govt; Xiaomi hit by spying claim

Chinese smartphones are under attack in Lithuania. Lithuania’s state-run cybersecurity body said on Tuesday that flagship Xiaomi phones, the company that hails from China, have a built-in ability to detect and censor terms.
Chinese smartphones are under attack in Lithuania. Lithuania’s state-run cybersecurity body said on Tuesday that flagship Xiaomi phones, the company that hails from China, have a built-in ability to detect and censor terms. (Xiaomi)

  • Xiaomi has reacted after this government alleged China made phones were spying on users. Apart from Xiaomi, the other Chinese smartphones that have been targetted are from Huawei.

The Defense Ministry of Lithuania has urged its citizens not to buy China made smartphones. In fact, the government wants users of Chinese smartphones to ‘throw away’ their phones. The report comes after diplomatic tension between Lithuania and China after Taiwan announced that its diplomatic mission in the Baltic nation would be called the ‘Taiwan Representative Office’.

Lithuania’s state-run cybersecurity body said on Tuesday that flagship Xiaomi phones have a built-in ability to detect and censor terms like “Free Tibet,” “Long live Taiwan independence”, or “democracy movement.” This ability is said to have been turned off for the European Union region on the Xiaomi Mi 10T 5G but it still exists nonetheless. However, it can be turned on remotely, says the report. A total of 449 terms are possibly being censored by the system apps on Xiaomi devices including the default Internet browser. The list is said to be constantly updated.

Xiaomi phones sending users data to foreign servers? 

Xiaomi was also found to be sending encrypted phone usage data to a server in Singapore. “This is important not only to Lithuania but to all countries which use Xiaomi equipment,” the Centre said in the report. On the other hand, Huawei isn’t free from such flaws either. A security hole was found in the Huawei P40 5G as well. However, a Huawei representative in the Baltics told the BNS news wire that its phones do not send users’ data to external sources.

The Deputy Defense Minister Margiris Abukevicius told reporters that their “recommendation is to not buy new Chinese phones, and to get rid of those already purchased as fast as reasonably possible.”

What does Xiaomi have to say about the allegations? 

"Xiaomi’s devices do not censor communications to or from its users," said a Xiaomi spokesperson. "Xiaomi has never and will never restrict or block any personal behaviours of our smartphone users, such as searching, calling, web browsing or the use of third-party communication software. "Xiaomi fully respects and protects the legal rights of all users. Xiaomi complies with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)."

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