Xiaomi responds to allegation of Redmi Note privacy issues

Redmi Note Privacy Issues

A couple of weeks back, several Taiwanese sites had reported that the Redmi Note smart phone has been secretly sending personal information such as contacts, text messages and photos to servers in China. This had certainly cast a doubt on its user privacy stand especially with the Redmi Note has been selling well worldwide. Xiaomi takes such allegation seriously and they had strongly clarified that Xiaomi does not transmit any personal information without permission of its users.

Its MIUI operating system does occasionally made contact with its servers hosted in China from time to time for syncing the latest preset messages and OTA updates. When it comes to personal information, the device does back up your contacts, messages and photos if a user opts to use their MiCloud, which is similar to Apple’s iCloud or Google’s Cloud backup system. If MiCloud is not enabled, your personal info will not be synced to their servers online.

Since the discovery was made on a Chinese site, they had released its Q&A in Chinese last week. Head after the break for the clarification in English.

Q: Online articles recently referred to some privacy issues with the Redmi Note, claiming that photos and text messages are sent to China secretly. Are they true?

A: An article severely misinterpreted a discussion thread asking about the Redmi Note’s communication with a server in China. The article also neglected to refer to a Chinese version of this Q&A already posted on the Xiaomi Hong Kong Facebook page. MIUI does not secretly upload photos and text messages.

MIUI requests public data from Xiaomi servers from time to time. These include data such as preset greeting messages (thousands of jokes, holiday greetings and poems) in the Messaging app and MIUI OTA update notifications, i.e. all non-personal data that does not infringe on user privacy.

Q: Does Xiaomi upload any personal data without my knowledge?

A: No. Xiaomi offers a service called Mi Cloud that enables users to back up and manage personal information in the cloud, as well as sync to other devices. This includes contacts, notes, text messages and photos. Mi Cloud is turned off by default. Users must log in with their Mi accounts and manually turn on Mi Cloud. They also have the option to only turn on backup for certain types of data. The use and storage of data in Mi Cloud fully respects the local laws of each country and region. Strict encryption algorithms are implemented to protect user privacy.

Q: Can I turn Mi Cloud off?

A: Yes. Just go to Settings > Mi Cloud to turn it off. If you would like to use a cloud back up service from another provider, there are options from Google, Dropbox and many others.

Q: Why should I believe you?

A: Xiaomi is serious about user privacy and takes all possible steps to ensure our Internet services adhere to our privacy policy. We do not upload any personal information and data without the permission of users. In a globalized economy, Chinese manufacturers’ handsets are selling well internationally, and many international brands are similarly successful in China – any unlawful activity would be greatly detrimental to a company’s global expansion efforts.