India’s junior IT Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar indicated on Twitter that the government would look into whether Realme smartphones are collecting and sending the personal data of users back to China.
Chandrasekhar was responding to a tweet alleging that Realme’s Enhanced Intelligent Services feature captures user data like call logs, SMS, and location info and is turned on by default. “This is basically forced consent since it’s on by default. Is this data being sent to China?” Rishi Bagree asked on Twitter on June 16.
Will hv this tested and checked @rishibagree
— Rajeev Chandrasekhar ?? (@Rajeev_GoI) June 16, 2023
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Following Rishi Bagree’s tweet, multiple Twitter users questioned Realme’s data collection policies including raising nationalistic concerns about how the data can be misused:
Something is Not Right Here With The *Enhanced Intelligent Services*
-*Charging Optimization Feature* Needs Location Information Why?
-*Wallpaper & Other Personalization Features*
Needs to Connect to Internet and read Calendar, event, Call logs & SMS Message. Why ?
— VJ MEHTA (@TechyMehta) June 17, 2023
Users of Realme! Beware that your data (call logs, SMS, and location info) might be secretly shared with unknown entities due to the Enhanced Intelligent Services feature being enabled by default. Their data may be misused to generate illegal revenue, putting their personal… pic.twitter.com/gpRtM4hw24
— Vijay Patel?? (@vijaygajera) June 16, 2023
The government will have to look into Oppo, Vivo, OnePlus, and Xiaomi as well: The Indian government might also have to look into other Chinese brands given that Realme’s parent company BBK Electronics also owns Oppo, Vivo, and OnePlus, and users on Twitter pointed out that Enhanced Intelligent Services exist on Oppo and OnePlus phones as well. Separately, there have been multiple concerns in the past about Xiaomi phones also sending user data back to China. Together these Chinese smartphone brands have over 50 percent market share in the country.
But don’t all smartphones collect such data? Some smartphone reviewers like Ranjit and Shahrukh rightly pointed out that other smartphone companies have similar features, but what’s wrong in the Realme case is that it’s turned on by default.
Many other smartphone brands also have similar services but mostly they are disabled by default.
It's a wrong to enable these services by default as on, as most users won't dig into settings to disable them.
I just hope we have stricter laws like EU in India then all this stuff…
— Ranjit (@geekyranjit) June 18, 2023
I don't find anything wrong with "Enhanced Intelligent Services" in Realme Smartphones.
"Only wrong thing is, if it is enabled by default."
Every brand whether its chinese or non-chinese collects your data.
They will continue to do so until you throw smartphones & internet.? pic.twitter.com/aqK9VWMsYA
— Tech Star Shahrukh (@techstarsrk) June 17, 2023
Increased scrutiny over Chinese smartphone brands and apps: Last week, an Economic Times report suggested that the IT Ministry held meetings with Chinese smartphone manufacturers like Xiaomi, Oppo, Realme, and Vivo and asked them to induct Indian equity partners in their local operations and also to hire Indian executives in key roles such as CEO, COO, etc. This follows the Enforcement Directorate’s show-cause notice to Xiaomi for sending illegal remittances.
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