Update: Xiaomi’s VP of International operations Hugo Barra has informed Medianama that they do not collect any information without user permission. “Users will always be notified beforehand in situations when we require your personal information, and will have to approve the request.”
He pointed out IAF has probably issued this advisory circular based on the F-Secure test conducted two months back and mentioned that they had immediately addressed the concerns raised, which was also acknowledged by F-Secure four days later.
Barra mentioned that they are also migrating their services and corresponding data for Indian users from their Beijing data centers to Amazon AWS data centers in Singapore and USA, which is expected to be fully complete by the end of this year. The company also plans to setup a local data center in India in 2015. More on that here.
Earlier: Indian Air Force (IAF) has accused Chinese smartphone manufacturer, Xiaomi of spying on its users and transmitting user’s personal information back to Chinese servers, reports The Sunday Standard. The alert note issued by IAF to its staff and their family members warned them against using any Xiaomi products, saying that the company was stealing not just their phone numbers and IMEI (device identifier) number, but was also accessing their phone calls and personal text messages.
IAF’s intelligence unit prepared the not with inputs from Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In), which says that a security solutions company called F-Secure recently tested Xiaomi’s Redmi 1S smartphone and discovered that it was forwarding network operator name, phone number, IMEI number, numbers from the phone’s address book and text messages to China.
Apparently, a Xiaomi Note user in Hong Kong also found that the phone was automatically connected to an IP address hosted in China and was forwarding images and text messages to it. This IP address is apparently owned by CNNIC, which is based in Beijing and is the administrative agency for Internet affairs under the Ministry of Information Industry of China.
Last month, the Taiwanese government started testing Xiaomi devices after several reports of data forwarding to China emerged. In June 2013, India’s Intelligence Bureau (IB) had apparently proposed a ban on Chinese instant messaging platform WeChat, citing concerns over proliferation of such service could cause threat to national security.