Xiaomi flagship phones sold in Europe can reportedly detect and censor anti-Chinese government sentiments
It wouldn't be a normal week without Xiaomi being embroiled in some form of controversy. Last time out, the Chinese company faced criticism for blocking phones in certain countries. This time around, it appears some Xiaomi phones may be running sneaky code that spies for the Chinese government. Or something like that, anyway.
According to reported findings by Lithuania's Defense Ministry, Xiaomi flagship phones sold in Europe have an inbuilt feature that allows them to detect and censor anti-Chinese government sentiments. These include particular phrases like "Democracy movement", Free Tibet", and "Long live Taiwan independence".
The report claims that the Mi 10T, for example, has that feature. It's turned off, however, at least for phones sold in the "European Union region". Supposedly, the feature can be turned on remotely by Xiaomi as well.
The real question here is: should you be scared if you own a Xiaomi device? Well, no. Phones ship with all sorts of code and it's not at all surprising that a Chinese company ships phones running software that complies with its countries policies. The morality of those policies is an entirely different conversation. The feature is also turned off, so owners of Xiaomi phones in Europe have nothing to be afraid of. The fact that it can be turned off remotely means nothing as well, as OEMs have always been able to enable features via OTA updates.
The source also purports that the device was sending encrypted user data to a server in Singapore. That's nothing novel in this space since smartphones have been known to send user analytics back to OEM servers. For what it's worth, however, a OnePlus phone was tested and found to be lacking any such pro-CCP code.