There is absolutely no room for doubt that Chinese manufacturers offer an excess of affordable gadgets with extraordinary specs to boot, in fact, Xiaomi would most likely be among the brands that you would consider when searching for a decent deal.
However, a few recent revelations put its privacy practices into question.
Security researchers Gabriel Cirlig and Andrew Tierney while speaking to Forbes guaranteed that Xiaomi’s web browsers gather an ‘over the top’ amount of information even in incognito mode. This purportedly incorporated all URLs and search queries made in the stock MIUI browser, just as Mi Browser Pro and Mint Browser.
When combined, these programs have in excess of 15 million downloads on the Google Play Store. As per Forbes, “The device was also recording what folders had been opened and to which screens the user swiped, including the status bar and the settings page.”
Tierney later following up on Xiaomi’s blog post with a Twitter thread defending the primary findings with additional evidence. In a said blog post, the Chinese manufacture guaranteed every single data gathered is anonymized and that its practices are the same as the industry standard.
Notwithstanding, not long subsequent to issuing the statement, Xiaomi pushed an update to its browsers, permitting users to ‘toggle off’ data collection in incognito mode.
Xiaomi guarantees that all information it gathers is anonymized, in spite of the fact that this has been questioned by the discoveries of the security researchers.
However, regardless of whether Xiaomi’s side is thought about in this contention, there has been proof that some anonymized information can still be traced back to the users. The New York Times proved this with anonymous location data.
While browser data may be a bit harder to link to a user than location data, it could be conceivable depending upon how the information is gathered and stored. In the Xiaomi situation, the expansion of the ‘toggle off’ option is likewise disappointing on the grounds that this implies the default hasn’t changed.
The Chinese company will continue gathering incognito browser data unless users are aware of the ‘toggle and explicitly opt-out’.
Given the fact that Xiaomi is the fourth-largest smartphone manufacturer by market share, this implies for the average user that is not in particular ‘tech-savvy’ as the status quo remains the same.