China-made commercial drones might contain back doors and malware that transmit flight and video data to the government in China, an official said yesterday.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the senior official said that Chinese drones, widely used by farmers for crop dusting, pose a significant cybersecurity threat to users and the government.
Beijing has unrestricted access to private user data held by Chinese corporations, which are obligated to cooperate with the country’s national intelligence efforts under China’s National Intelligence Law, the official said.
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In Taipei, government agencies have taken steps to remove Chinese-manufactured devices and software from official use as President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has made cybersecurity a priority in her national security policy, the source said.
Security protocols were tightened to no longer allow middle and high-ranking officials to use Chinese-made electronics for work or personal use, they said.
The official spoke on the matter following a statement by the National Communications Commission (NCC) on Thursday that said Xiaomi Corp’s (小米) Mi 10T 5G smartphones have built-in censorship capabilities and can transmit user data to servers in Beijing.
The commission said that its Telecommunications Technology Center in October last year tested a model sold in Taiwan, after the Lithuanian National Cyber Security Center on Sep. 21 last year discovered the device’s censorship capabilities.
The official yesterday said that while Xiaomi disavowed security issues with its products by saying that the features did not appear in models sold in Taiwan and Europe, the claims were not supported by the NCC’s independent analysis, and its report raised troubling implications about Chinese electronics.
The ban on devices applies to government employees only and not private citizens, the source said, adding that the government could only advise the public against buying products with compromised security features.
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