August 11, 2014 by ...
Xiaomi was caught secretly uploading users text messages and photos recently. As soon as the Redmi phone had juice, it let an anonymous server in Beijing know what you had been up to. The phone established this covert connection even when the phone was not connected to the cloud.
Hugo Barra’s initial feeble attempt at damage control was a lukewarm, ‘Uh, we will check into that.’
Xiaomi was probably unprepared for the media onslaught onslaught regarding this security issue. Since that time, Xiaomi has diverted attention by saying that users cannot opt out of having their data sent to the cloud. Correct me if I am wrong, but the ‘cloud’ was not the real issue was it?
Based on reports I have seen, data was sent to servers in Beijing which had nothing to do with cloud computing. Of course there could be multiple events leading to multiple conclusions, but they all point to one thing- Xiaomi was not being forthright.
In China companies must turn over sensitive data as a matter of course. They too must police their own websites and are held personally responsible for any offensive material residing there. In order to avoid problems they aggressively self censor. This is the state of business in China today and part of the reason Google has left.
Xiaomi appears to have taken the other path. It abides by the Chinese axiom that it is better to ask for forgiveness than permission. The problem is that due to questionable actions by Chinese firms such as ZTE, Huawei and Lenovo, people are wary of tech made in the PRC. Things only got worse when the Chinese made Star N9500 shipped with malware built in and more recently inventory scanners were caught stealing financial data from their consumers. With such a background, more people are leery of Chinese tech.
Xiaomi’s inability to provide a straight forward and timely reply do little to dispel the notion that their goods may be tainted.