Xiaomi defended itself against accusations that the Chinese smartphone manufacturer was secretly collecting private data, claiming that the privacy and security of its customers is its “top priority.”
Cybersecurity researcher Gabi Cirlig claimed that much of what he was doing on his Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 was being tracked, with the data sent to remote servers, Forbes reported. Cirlig said that the smartphone’s default browser, Xiaomi’s Mint, recorded the websites he visited, while the device also monitored activity such as opening folders and swiping screens.
Further investigation by another cybersecurity researcher, Andrew Tierney, revealed that Xiaomi’s Mint Browser and Mi Browser Pro, downloaded through the Google Play Store, collected the same data.
Cirlig told Forbes that he suspects other Xiaomi phones, including the Mi 10, Redmi K20, and Mi Mix 3, came with the same privacy issue. He also claimed that it only took a few seconds to crack the encryption of the supposedly protected data into readable information.
Xiaomi denies accusations
“Xiaomi has reviewed a recent article by Forbes on our privacy policies and believes the reporting to be misrepresentative of the facts. At Xiaomi, our users’ privacy and security are of top priority,” the company said in its response to the Forbes article.
Xiaomi said that its collection of usage data is given explicit permission by its customers, and the process is anonymous and encrypted. The data is used for internal analysis, without linking any information that may be used to identify individuals.
The manufacturer also said that before the article was published, it responded to questions sent by Forbes’ reporter, and it believes that the article “does not accurately reflect the content and facts of these communications.”
However, despite these explanations, there is still no logical reason for a browser to send detailed information while in incognito mode, according to Android Police. A recent update to the Mint Browser did not change anything, as it still collects the same data.
The privacy issue follows another controversy involving Xiaomi, in which text on the packaging of the Mi 10 Pro boasting access to Google apps was seen by online communities as a thinly veiled attack on rival Huawei.