Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi Corp’s (小米) Mi 10T 5G smartphones have built-in censorship capabilities and can transmit user data to servers at its Beijing headquarters, the National Communications Commission (NCC) said on Thursday evening.
The Telecommunications Technology Center, a think tank run by the commission, conducted a test in October last year on the model sold in Taiwan after the Lithuanian National Cyber Security Center on Sept. 21 last year informed the NCC of the device’s censorship capabilities.
The Lithuanian Ministry of National Defense last year advised Lithuanians to avoid Chinese cellphones and dispose of any they own after discovering the software.
“Our test showed that a program [MiAdBlacklisConfigur] can be downloaded from the servers of globalapi.ad.xiaomi.com through seven built-in applications on the Mi 10T 5G smartphone, which targets a long list of politically sensitive terms and can block the smartphones from linking to related Web sites. These apps can also transmit users’ Web history to servers in Beijing,” the NCC said in a statement.
The software can detect and block terms such as “Free Tibet,” “Taiwan independence” and “independent media in Hong Kong,” or terms related to the Tiananmen Square Massacre, former Chinese president Hu Jintao (胡錦濤), President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), the Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper), the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Democratic Progressive Party, the commission’s test showed.
The NCC said it expressed its concern over the software to Xiaomi Taiwan on the same day it was informed by Lithuania.
NCC said the company told it in an e-mail that the 10T smartphones sold in Taiwan are different from those in Europe, and assured the agency that the devices Taiwanese consumers purchase do not monitor or censor users’ communications, or restrict their Internet searches.
“Judging from the test results, we will continue our investigations to determine if Xiaomi Taiwan has compromised the interests of Taiwanese users by invading their privacy. We will inform relevant agencies if the company contravenes regulations enforced by other administrative authorities,” the commission said.
The NCC unveiled its test results so that the public can know the personal privacy risks of using Xiaomi smartphones, it said.
Article 14 of China’s National Intelligence Law stipulates that Chinese citizens and enterprises are obligated to support, assist and cooperate with national intelligence work, the NCC said.
Unlike smartphones made by other manufacturers, the 10T devices do not allow users to turn off tracking functions, the commission said.
Although targeted terms have been removed from the company’s servers, the manufacturer could remotely reinstall the software, it said.
Xiaomi said that it “has never, and will never” limit, block or collect data when users conduct searches, make calls, browse the Internet or use third-party communication platforms and software.
The company said that the MiAdBlacklistConfig file manages paid advertisements for Xiaomi apps, adding that it also protects users from inappropriate content, such as hate speech, or depictions of violence, sex and information that might prove offensive to local users.
Such software is widely used by smartphone companies and social media platforms, it said, citing Facebook’s and Google’s advertisement policies.
Xiaomi is dedicated to the protection of its users’ privacy and data security, it said, adding that it uses the highest standards to regulate its operations and fully complies with local and regional laws and regulations.
Additional reporting by Yang Mien-chieh
REACHING OUT: President Tsai expressed condolences to the deceased man’s family and wished a speedy recovery to those who were wounded in the shooting The Formosan Association for Public Affairs (FAPA) on Monday called on the US to label organizations associated with the suspect in the Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church shooting as domestic terrorists, following accusations that he was a member of a group backing unification with ties to the Chinese government. David Wenwei Chou (周文偉), 68, was arrested on Sunday and is being held in lieu of US$1 million bail at the Orange County Intake Release Center over a mass shooting at the California church that left one dead and five wounded. Local police suspect the shooting was politically motivated after they found notes in
NO CONSENSUS YET: Local governments and the CECC have agreed to change the ‘3+4’ self-isolation policy, but are still mulling what to replace it with The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) and local governments have agreed to ease restrictions on close contacts of COVID-19 cases, although the details are still being discussed, the center said yesterday. The discussions follow Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) on Saturday approving a proposal to shorten the “3+4” policy — three days of home isolation followed by four days of self-disease prevention — for close contacts who have received booster doses. “We did not reach a consensus on how to revise the current restrictions, but we all agreed that the administrative burden must be reduced and the intensity of restrictions must be eased,
OPPOSING CHINESE ‘HOSTILITY’: The bill orders the state secretary to create a plan to regain observer status for Taiwan, saying Taipei is a model contributor to world health US President Joe Biden on Friday signed a bill into law to help Taiwan regain observer status at the World Health Assembly (WHA), demonstrating Washington’s support for Taiwan’s international participation. Friday was the deadline for Biden to sign the bill (S.812), which directs “the Secretary of State to develop a strategy to regain observer status for Taiwan in the World Health Organization (WHO), and for other purposes.” The 75th WHA, the decisionmaking body of the WHO, is scheduled to meet in Geneva, Switzerland, from Sunday next week to May 28. The bill, introduced by US Senator Bob Menendez, chairman of the US Senate
‘DAMOCLES SWORD’: An Italian missionary said the arrest of cardinal Zen is a blow for the church in Hong Kong, China and the world, signaling great danger ahead China yesterday defended the arrest of a 90-year-old Catholic cardinal under Hong Kong’s National Security Law, a move that triggered international outrage and deepened concerns over Beijing’s crackdown on freedoms in the territory. Retired cardinal Joseph Zen (陳日君), one of the most senior Catholic clerics in Asia, was among a group of veteran democracy advocates arrested on Wednesday for “colluding with foreign forces.” Pop singer Denise Ho (何韻詩), veteran barrister Margaret Ng (吳靄儀) and cultural studies academic Hui Po-keung (許寶強) were also arrested, the latter as he attempted to fly to Europe to take up an academic post. Cyd Ho (何秀蘭), a democracy