The German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) said it found no evidence of censorship on Xiaomi’s phones. The BSI began investigations following allegations by the Lithuanian cybersecurity watchdog in September about built-in censorship on Xiaomi’s devices.
The Lithuanian Defence Ministry alleged that Xiaomi censored terms like “Free Tibet”, “Long live Taiwan independence,” and “democracy movement” on its phones. Lithuania’s Vice Minister of National Defence, Margiris Abukevičius, even urged users to get rid of Xiaomi phones “as fast as reasonably possible.”
This investigation by BSI suggests otherwise, providing a much-needed morale boost for the Chinese manufacturer. The agency conducted a thorough investigation over the past few months trying to find the truth in the allegations. “As a result, the BSI was unable to identify any anomalies that would require further investigation or other measures,” a BSI spokesperson told Reuters.
Xiaomi allegedly sent encrypted phone usage data to a server in Singapore
Understandably, Xiaomi expressed its satisfaction with the results of the German investigation. “Xiaomi is pleased that, the results of the investigation conducted by the German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) published yesterday, confirm our commitment to operate transparently, responsibly and with the privacy and security of our customers as a top priority,” a Xiaomi spokesperson said.
“We welcome the exchange with users, regulators, and other stakeholders like the BSI as we are committed to constant improvement and innovation.”
The Lithuanian agency said Xiaomi could enable censorship on its devices remotely. However, the agency added that the feature was off by default. Further, the agency claimed that Xiaomi redirected encrypted phone usage data to a server based in Singapore.
Xiaomi defended its position on sending encrypted data to Singapore by saying it complies with the EU’s GDPR framework. There was some alarm following the allegations of censorship against Xiaomi. But the findings of BSI’s latest investigation would greatly help Xiaomi’s image in the region. The Lithuanian Defence Ministry hasn’t commented on the allegations as of yet.
The Xiaomi incident came against the backdrop of diplomatic tensions between China and Lithuania last year. In the aftermath, China sought to recall the Lithuanian ambassador in Beijing. China further said at the time that it would recall its ambassador in Vilnius.