Thu. Aug 18th, 2022
Why is Xiaomi accused of "censorship"?


Xiaomi phones would incorporate a censorship tool that would be “remotely activatable at any time,” says the Lithuanian government. Back in a political-media escape.

Within a report Dated in late August 2021, the Lithuanian body in charge of national cybersecurity accuses Xiaomi of incorporating a censorship tool on its smartphones. More specifically, Xiaomi phones sold in Europe would have a module capable of blocking certain controversial content, using a list of keywords present on the phone. A module that would be disabled by default with us, but that could be enabled in “any moment“Declare the Lithuanian authorities.

We recommend that you do not buy new Chinese phones and get rid of the ones you have already bought as soon as possible.“, tells Reuters the Deputy Minister of National Defense of the Republic of Lithuania. So should you throw away your phone right away?

A censorship tool designed for China

If we trust the report published by the Lithuanian authorities, we learn that various system applications (including web browser or theme management tool) “regularly download a MiAdBlacklistConfig configuration file from a server in Singapore.

Why is Xiaomi accused of

Xiaomi phones would download a file containing “prohibited” terms, according to Lithuania. This file would block the appearance of certain ads or certain web results.

Source: NKSC

This file would contain, according to the latest news, a list of 449 “titles, names and other information on various religious, political and social movement groups“Among the words listed, we find terms that have to do with the political situation in Tibet, the independence of Taiwan or the pro-democracy movements. Indices suggesting that this module was designed for smartphones sold in China, with in order to comply with the wishes of the local government.

As the Lithuanian authorities write, this tool aims to “filter media content displayed on device“. Therefore, it would seem that censorship does not directly affect communications between people, but rather advertising and other external content uploaded by the phone. However, the situation is not ideal, since if the browser hides the content corresponding to these words, a whole part of the web is censored.

Xiaomi defends itself

Faced with the accusations of the Lithuanian government, which considers that this tool poses a problem for “all countries using Xiaomi equipment», The manufacturer defends himself.

In a statement, the company denies en bloc and specifies that “Xiaomi devices do not censor communications to or from their users. “The company adds that”It has never restricted or blocked, and never will, the habits of its smartphone users, such as searches, calls, Internet browsing or the use of third-party communication software.

The company claims to comply with the GDPR to the letter and not to infringe the rights of users. A fairly consensual speech that does not go into many technical details, when it is precisely there where the case would need clarification. As it is, everyone can believe the builder or not.

This clash between the Lithuanian authorities and China comes at a difficult geopolitical moment. The two countries are at the center of a controversy, because Lithuania would have authorized an ambassador to open, on its soil, an embassy on behalf of Taiwan. What annoys the Chinese government, which claims political control of the region.

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This article was translated from this source written by Corentin Bechade

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