Xiaomi's Redmi Note allegedly sending user data to China surreptitiously

Posted:
in iPhone edited August 2014
At least one device from upstart Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi has been found to transmit user data -- including SMS messages and photos -- back to servers in mainland China without the user's permission, according to reports from Hong Kong.

A screenshot showing outgoing data connections to a Beijing IP address.
A screenshot showing outgoing data connections to a Beijing IP address.


While testing Xiaomi's Redmi Note handset, Kenny Li of Hong Kong forum IMA Mobile discovered that the device continued to make connections with IP addresses in Beijing even after switching off the company's iCloud-like MiCloud service. The transmissions occur only over Wi-Fi, though the device does stay in contact with the servers via small "handshakes" while using cellular data.

Li says that data transmission persists even after erasing and re-flashing the handset with a different Android ROM, suggesting that the functionality could be built in to the phone's firmware.

It remains unclear whether this is the handset's intended mode of operation or if it is the result of a software glitch, as Xiaomi has yet to respond to the allegations. The company has previously said that it will store customer data in China, but only after the user opts in.

While attention has been focused on American technology companies in the wake of Edward Snowden's spying revelations, Chinese companies have also come under the microscope in recent years. Chinese telecom giants -- and Xiaomi competitors -- Huawei and ZTE were called out as "national security risks" in a 2012 report from the U.S. House Intelligence Committee, though both denied having cooperating with the Chinese government.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 32
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,658member
    I can tell you the Huawei has been under US suspicion since 2000, Companies which did business with the US government were told not to use Huawei networking product due to backdoor access that existed.

    This is nothing new, the fingers are just now being pointed to US companies, working on behalf the federal government.
  • Reply 2 of 32
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 21,117member
    Huh. I didn't know that their forked Android version, MIUI, was still compatible with and using at least some Google services. A little surprising as I thought only Google Android used Google services. Plainly I was mistaken.
  • Reply 3 of 32
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post



    The company has previously said that it will store customer data in China, but only after the user opts in.

     

    Apparently opting in consists in using the handset.

  • Reply 4 of 32
    bregaladbregalad Posts: 816member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by sog35 View Post



    this is why I'll never buy a Chinese brand phone

    Or a Chinese or Korean smart TV.

     

    Actually it's hard to use any electronics these days without someone tracking every step you take and every tap you make.

     

    I'm going to stick with my old fashioned dumb appliances, thermostats, etc.

  • Reply 5 of 32
    Guess they better hand over their source code to the Russia government too.
  • Reply 6 of 32
    anantksundaramanantksundaram Posts: 19,387member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Bregalad View Post

     

    Actually it's hard to use any electronics these days without someone tracking every step you take and every tap you make.


    This is correct. Did you know, for instance, that every digital copier --made largely in Asia, by Asian companies -- contains a hard drive that stores the cover page of every copy that is made!? See, for example, http://www.cbsnews.com/news/digital-photocopiers-loaded-with-secrets/

  • Reply 7 of 32
    sockrolidsockrolid Posts: 2,788member

    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

    Chinese telecom giants -- and Xiaomi competitors -- Huawei and ZTE were called out as "national security risks" in a 2012 report ...

     

    Europeans: totally paranoid of any and all government and corporate spying.

     

    Americans: outraged by government spying, somewhat annoyed by Google and other corporate spying.

     

    Chinese: completely accustomed to constant government spying and corporate spying.

     

    So what does that tell you about Chinese phones and Chinese Android hacks?

  • Reply 8 of 32
    fallenjtfallenjt Posts: 3,980member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by sog35 View Post



    this is why I'll never buy a Chinese brand phone

    or car, or any product! Today, I'm proudly saying that I'm Chinese made product free...yup. Nothing in my house is made in China...maybe "Assembled" in China still sticks with me for awhile...lol.

  • Reply 9 of 32
    lostkiwilostkiwi Posts: 607member
    sog35 wrote: »
    Probably Xiaomi gave backdoor access to the Chinese government in exchange for smear campaign against Apple.
    Somehow I doubt this story about Xiaomi will be topping headlines in China like all the Apple hit pieces. I wonder why...
  • Reply 10 of 32
    jungmarkjungmark Posts: 6,716member
    sockrolid wrote: »
    Europeans: totally paranoid of any and all government and corporate spying.

    Americans: outraged by government spying, somewhat annoyed by Google and other corporate spying.

    Chinese: completely accustomed to constant government spying and corporate spying.

    So what does that tell you about Chinese phones and Chinese Android hacks?

    I don't don't know if the Chinese citizens are accustomed to it as the govt controls the media.

    Still, this is probably the only original idea for them.
  • Reply 11 of 32
    lukeilukei Posts: 333member
    China, US, EU. What amazes me is that people are surprised that governments are spying on them.
  • Reply 12 of 32
    gtrgtr Posts: 3,231member
    Never, never, NEVER...install or use Chinese software.

    That includes software from torrent sites, not to mention jailbreaking tools.
  • Reply 13 of 32
    Guess they better hand over their source code to the Russia government too.

    LOL In Russia, the spies worry about privacy issues.
  • Reply 14 of 32
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by lukei View Post



    China, US, EU. What amazes me is that people are surprised that governments are spying on them.

    I think a much more interesting question is why are governments spying?

  • Reply 15 of 32
    lukeilukei Posts: 333member
    Because they want control. As governments always do. Whether democratic or dictatorship it's all about controlling the masses
  • Reply 16 of 32
    mejsricmejsric Posts: 134member
    fallenjt wrote: »
    or car, or any product! Today, I'm proudly saying that I'm Chinese made product free...yup. Nothing in my house is made in China...maybe "Assembled" in China still sticks with me for awhile...lol.

    There is a big difference between on Chinese Brand vs Made in China (Assembled)
  • Reply 17 of 32
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by lukei View Post



    ...it's all about controlling the masses

    Governments already have control. Controlling the masses is what they were elected to do. They pass and enforce laws. Control does not explain spying. Why would the US spy on both friendly and adversarial countries? It can't be for control of the masses because they are citizens of a different country. Your explanation uses way too much tin foil.

  • Reply 18 of 32
    redhotfuzzredhotfuzz Posts: 298member

    Android: free and open.  Android vendors are "free" to exploit your now "open" personal information.  What's not to love?  THANKS GOOGLE!

  • Reply 19 of 32
    fallenjtfallenjt Posts: 3,980member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Mejsric View Post





    There is a big difference between on Chinese Brand vs Made in China (Assembled)


     

    I would say small difference for Chinese brand vs Made in China. Chinese brands are designed by Chinese companies while Made in China brand are foreign companies's design, but built by Chinese companies and had QC checked following foreign companies' standards (sh..t everything can be bribed in China...so what's different?).

    Made in China is not equal Assembled in China. Made in China means parts (not all) are also made by Chinese companies while Assembled in China means parts imported from others.

  • Reply 20 of 32
    lorin schultzlorin schultz Posts: 2,744member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by fallenjt View Post

     

    Made in China is not equal Assembled in China. Made in China means parts (not all) are also made by Chinese companies while Assembled in China means parts imported from others.


     

    Are you sure? I seem to recall customs documents saying all they care about is where the majority of the assembly occurs. Those documents were to explain why you can't build a light fixture in India, slap a shade on it in Vancouver and call it "Made in Canada" so maybe it's not relevant.

     

    I've always had the impression that "Assembled in..." is MarketingSpeak with no actual legal definition, that companies like Apple use the phrase in an attempt to sway perception of the product as being better because the design work was done somewhere else. (Why a product designed in California would automatically be better than one designed in, I dunno, Taiwan, strikes me as hitting a jingoistic drum, but that's not really the point.)

     

    Anyway, are you sure there's an actual, defined distinction between "Made in..." and "Assembled in...?"

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