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Xiaomi to set up local data center in India in 2015 amid privacy concerns


Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi is migrating MIUI services and corresponding data for all its International users (including Indian users) from its Beijing data centers to Amazon AWS data centers in Oregon (USA) and Singapore, Xiaomi’s VP of International operations Hugo Barra has informed on Google+.

Barra mentions that this migration started in early 2014 and they expect to migrate all Mi Account servers by the end of this month and complete the entire migration by the end of this year. He claims that this migration is expected to reduce the network request latency time for Indian users by up to 350 milli seconds.

Setting up local servers in 2015: Going forward, the handset maker also plans to set up local servers in countries like India and Brazil where Amazon AWS services aren’t available yet, by tying up with local data center providers. These local servers are expected to be setup in 2015.

While Barra mentions that the primary goal for this migration was to improve the performance of its service by reducing latency and failure rates, this development comes amid recent privacy and security concerns of Xiaomi phones sending sensitive user data like text messages, contacts, phone numbers, ISP’s name and IMEI number among others to the company’s servers in China, irrespective of whether the user signs up for the company’s cloud messaging services or not.

Barra denied this allegations in July this year and Xiaomi later issued a software fix making its cloud messaging an opt-in service for users. (More details on how Xiaomi deals with user’s data here). It’s possible that this data migration will enable Xiaomi to address these privacy and security concerns although it might raise a question that can’t Xiaomi send the data to China from AWS?

IAF circular based on old report? Last week, IAF also reportedly sent a circular advising its staff and family members to refrain from using these phones. The circular had mentioned a F-Secure test from July this year, which pointed out that Xiaomi was sending sensitive information to its Chinese servers.

However, what’s worth noting is that F-Secure had released yet another report in the following week, that had mentioned that Xiaomi had fixed this bug with the software fix issued in August this year. Indian Express mentions that F-Secure APAC Security Advisor Su Gim Goh had also confirmed to the publication that Xiaomi had rectified these privacy issues by making the cloud messaging services an opt-in feature.

Barra told The Economic Times that they have not heard anything from IAF or any other authorities yet and they are reaching out to address any concerns these authorities might have, while Xiaomi India head Manu Kumar Jain told that they are currently attempting to reach out to the Indian authorities to learn more specifics.

E-commerce migration: As an aside, Barra also noted that they are migrating their global e-commerce platforms to these data centers, that is expected to complete by the end of this month. He claimed that this migration will benefit users in all its International markets including India and will also result in faster site speeds of up to 200% in India.

However, it’s worth noting that unlike other markets, Xiaomi doesn’t sell its devices directly through its website in India yet, rather it has an exclusive tie-up with Flipkart to sell these devices.

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