What you need to know
- Xiaomi has been accused of collecting more data than would reasonably be anticipated from smartphone users.
- A report from Forbes spotted data from incongito mode being routed to servers in Russia and Singapore.
- Xiaomi denied the allegations, arguing that it was strictly abiding by local regulations.
Browsing on incognito mode may not be as private as users think if you're using a Xiaomi phone. As per a report from Forbes (working with security researcher Gabi Cirlig), the default Xiaomi browser was sending records of every website users accessed, even while they were in incognito mode.
The device was also recording what folders he opened and to which screens he swiped, including the status bar and the settings page. All of the data was being packaged up and sent to remote servers in Singapore and Russia, though the Web domains they hosted were registered in Beijing. [...] lI]t wasn't just the website or Web search that was sent to the server. Xiaomi was also collecting data about the phone, including unique numbers for identifying the specific device and Android version. Cirlig said such "metadata" could "easily be correlated with an actual human behind the screen."
Xiaomi's phones are cheap and cheerful, offering powerful specs for prices below what more mainstream OEMs like Samsung or even Huawei would charge. The firm has seen great success with this tactic, even beating out Huawei, OPPO, and Vivo last quarter. Its seeming disregard for privacy now serves to call into question the hidden costs of cheap smartphones.
Of course, Xiaomi disagrees with Forbes' assessment. In response to the article, the company gave the following statement to Android Central:
Xiaomi was disappointed to read the recent article from Forbes. We feel they have misunderstood what we communicated regarding our data privacy principles and policy. Our user's privacy and internet security is of top priority at Xiaomi; we are confident that we strictly follow and are fully compliant with local laws and regulations. We have reached out to Forbes to offer clarity on this unfortunate misinterpretation.
But, as Forbes points out, Xiaomi collects a lot more than just general browsing data like searches and websites visited. Even giving Xiaomi the benefit of the doubt, it all boils down to a problem of trust. People may expect their carrier or broadband provider to be able to access some of their data in incognito mode, but for the browser maker, itself to be doing so violates expectations. People may expect Spotify to track their listening data, but not Xiaomi. Few people consciously expect homepage swipes to be tracked. When trust between data handlers and the public fails in small matters, it becomes harder for their statements to ring true on more significant issues.
"When Forbes provided Xiaomi with a video made by Cirlig showing how his Google search for "porn" and a visit to the site PornHub were sent to remote servers, even when in incognito mode, the company spokesperson continued to deny that the information was being recorded," Forbes noted.
We may earn a commission for purchases using our links. Learn more.
Remarkable 2 review: The writing tablet that changed my life
The Remarkable 2 is one of those products you don't think you'll like, or need, until you use it — and then you're absolutely addicted to it.
Samsung's not-so-secret plan to beat Apple is about leaving Qualcomm behind
It's a matter of when not if we'll see Samsung go all-Exynos, and seeing a powerful new breed of Exynos SoC would mean good things for Samsung phones and their competition.
Netflix StreamFest: How to watch Netflix for free right now in India
Netflix StreamFest is a 48-hour streaming festival where everyone in India will be able to access the streaming service for free. All you need to do is set up an account and stream all the TV shows and movies that Netflix has to offer without paying anything. Here's how to watch Netflix for free in India during StreamFest.
Snag one of these and rest easy with the best LG Stylo 6 cases you can find
The LG Stylo 6 is an all-around solid device from LG, without trying to do too much. There's an almost bezel-less display to go along with three rear cameras found above the rear-mounted fingerprint scanner. Once you have a Stylo 6 in your hands, it's time to grab a case to protect your investment.