Xiaomi smartphones black listed
The Indian Air Force(IAF) has issued a circular to its 175,000 personnel to shun the use of Xiaomi smartphones either by them, or their family members on suspicions that the company is using their phones to spy on its users on behalf of the Chinese government.
In August this year, F-secure released reports that they had found proof that Xiaomi handsets were sending data back to its company servers in China. They weren’t the first to figure it out though, a user named Kenny Li wrote in a Hong Kong forum that his Xiomi RedMi Note was sending pictures and messages to servers in China. Initially, the claim was refuted by saying that this was data being sent to the cloud backup servers. It was allegedly just a coincidence that the servers were located in China. To be fair, the service provider is allowed to decide on the location where backup data should be stored.
Therefore, this user decided to root his phone and install a different ROM. and he still found data being sent to the same servers. This meant that it wasn’t the cloud service, but the phone hardware that was sending the data back to somebody who was really interested in collating such data.
Fallout of the report
So, why did Indian Air Force issue a notification against using Xiaomi phones?
The Sunday Standard recently reported that the Indian Air Force (IAF) has notified its 1,75,000 personnel and their family members not to use Xiaomi smartphones on account of ‘spying’. The report said the IAF alert was based on the inputs from CERT-In, India’s premier cyber watchdog.
What’s surprising is that the IAF notification seems to be hinting on the same report released by F-Secure in August to which the software security company had already confirmed that Xiaomi has rectified the issue and the company no longer breaches privacy.
Now, there can be two situations- either, the privacy problem with Xiaomi has returned or the IAF notification is based on older reports. We believe it to be the latter, as no new reports have surfaced since the F-Secure clarification in September.
The author Delwyn Pinto
A person proud to have an alternate view