"Throw out Chinese phones", the authorities of Lithuania urge

"Throw out Chinese phones", the authorities of Lithuania urge

The Lithuanian Ministry of Defense recommended citizens to get rid of Chinese smartphones.The recommendation was issued after the report of the Cybersecurity Center (NCSC) was published.It shows that Xiaomi phones have built -in censorship software.

It's about the Mi 10t 5g model.He can detect various phrases undesirable by Chinese authorities, for example "free Tibet", "Taiwan Independence" or "Democratic Movements".Factory applications installed on it, including the web browser receive lists of such forbidden words and phrases from the company servers - according to the NCSC report.If someone is looking for such worries in the browser, they will not find any results.

"Xiaomi telephones sold in Lithuania had the search function turned off and did not censor them.However, the devices regularly received lists of such forbidden words, "said Tatuvydas Bakšys from NSCS.So although the censorship function is disabled on phones sold in Europe, as experts say - it can be started without the user's knowledge.When the search is censored, the phone holder will not notice anything suspicious.

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"Don't buy Chinese phones"

During the press conference, Deputy Minister of National Defense Margiris Abukevičius recommended that Lithuanian citizens would not buy Chinese smartphones, and the old ones "got rid of as soon as they could".

The collection of data by phone manufacturers is also a threat.In Europe, collecting personal data is regulated by the EU regulation (in Poland shortened to the GDPR, his English abbreviation is GDPR).The browser installed by Xiaomi on smartphones collects, according to Lithuanian cybersecurity services, "excessive amount" of such data.Even worse, he sends them to servers in Singapore, where the European GDPR, of course, is not valid.

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Lithuanians also have reservations about Huawei phones.Online store with applications for smartphones of this company, Appgallery, directs users to stores run by other companies.Some of them are known for the fact that their applications contain malware.Hidden in the application, it can get access to very sensitive data that is on the phone.These include not only our personal data, but, for example, login details to banks.

However, Lithuanian services did not find security threats on the phones of another Chinese company, OnePlus.

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In fact, we do not know who and how to collect our data from smartphones

At first, Xiaomi did not respond to requests for comment.Then she announced that she did not censor the content searched by users and she never did it.Huawei spokesman only commented that the company does not send user data.

The background of the NSCS Lithuanian report are diplomatic friction between two countries.Lithuanian-Chinese relations have been significantly cooled when the Taiwan embassy was opened in Vilnius.The People's Republic of China considers the island to be its rebellious province and dismissed her ambassador from Vilnius.

Regardless of these disputes, the NSCS report should remind us that we have very limited control over what is happening in our phones.Theoretically, the collection of our data is regulated by the EU regulation.In practice, however, we have no influence on whether such data is collected and where it is processed.

If anyone knows what we are looking for on the internet, they can give us ads tailored to us.Data on the preferences of internet users of browser (from so -called cookies) are sold wholesale.It has been shown many times that even from such information (without personal or anonymized data), statistical methods can be obtained by data to identify a specific person.

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Why did Americans buy a gay application from the Chinese?

Interesting in this context is also the GRINDR case - a dating application for gays.In April 2018, the Norwegian NGO Sintef discovered that the company sells the data of its users.Information of sexual options, health (in this date of the last study on HIV) and the location of millions of people bought two enterprises.

The company defended itself and the data was anonymized (without personal data), and their buyers obliged to maintain confidentiality.She also claimed that this is a common practice in this industry.The case was controversial because the application was purchased by the Chinese IT company Kunlun Group based in Beijing.Two years later, in March 2020, the Chinese agreed to sell the application to the Americans.They did it at the request of the Agency (CFiUS) studying the structure of shares in American companies in terms of national security.Apparently, the Americans decided that sensitive data should not hit the hands of the Chinese government.

Source: Euronews, Reuters.

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