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
Taipei on Friday rejected Hanoi’s characterization of its recent live-fire drill near Itu Aba Island (Taiping Island, 太平島) as “illegal,” saying that Taiwan’s claim to the small island in the South China Sea was “unquestionable.” The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said in a statement that the comments made by its Vietnamese counterpart about the military’s routine live-fire drills near Itu Aba on Tuesday were “unacceptable.” Earlier on Friday, Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang called Taiwan’s military activity “a serious violation of Vietnam’s territorial sovereignty,” saying it had caused tensions and complicated the situation in the region. Hang
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) yesterday said it is more than doubling its US investment to US$40 billion as it plans to make 3-nanometer chips in 2026 at a second Arizona fab, adding to the chipmaker’s original plan of building a US$12 billion fab to make 4-nanometer chips in 2024. The investment would mark the largest foreign direct investment in Arizona’s history and one of the largest foreign direct investments in the history of the US, the world’s largest contract chipmaker said in a statement yesterday. In addition to the more than 10,000 construction workers at the site, TSMC’s two fabs
ENHANCEMENT: The sale would update Taiwan’s Patriot missile system to improve its missile defensive capability and deter threats, the US Department of State said The US has proposed selling Taiwan as many as 100 of its most advanced Patriot air-defense missiles along with radar and support equipment in a deal valued at US$882 million, according to a US Department of State notice obtained by Bloomberg News. The proposal was made under the provisions of a 2010 sale and so technically is not new. It is classified as an enhancement to the earlier deal, with a potential total value of US$2.81 billion. The upgrade would not change the overall value of that deal, which infuriated Beijing at the time and led it to halt planned military exchanges
‘UNITED FRONT’ TOOL? There are already many accounts on Douyin impersonating government agencies, and even Premier Su Tseng-chang, DPP Legislator Mark Ho said Lawmakers and a number of experts yesterday called on the government to ban or heavily regulate Douyin (抖音) over concerns that the short-video platform could be used by China to spread disinformation. Owned by ByteDance Ltd (字節跳動), Douyin and its international version, TikTok, are a subject of concern in democracies worldwide because of potential manipulation by the Chinese government. FBI Director Chris Wray on Friday said that Beijing might have the ability to control TikTok’s recommendation algorithm, “which allows them to manipulate content, and if they want to, to use it for influence operations.” TikTok could also be used to collect personal data