According to a recent article from Forbes, Xiaomi was collecting a worrying amount of information from its native smartphone browser application – Mi Browser. The report states that the amount of collected user data goes from usage analytics to personally identifiable info. That news broke the web with a number of complaints stating that the company was violating user’s privacy. Now, the Chinese giant published a statement denying the claims outright.
Forbes post states that Xiaomi’s Mi Browser collects information like websites the user visited. It also includes search engine queries and items viewed in the browser’s news feed. To make things worse, the report states that the company has been collecting these sensible data even while users were using the browser in the incognito mode. Incognito mode is there to “promote” a safe untraceable browsing mode, however, apparently, it wasn’t the case with Mi Browser.
While the browser encrypts the user data, it uses Base64 encoding which is easily crackable. The report goes beyond and states that the information was being sent to remote servers in Singapore and Russia. Forbes also states that the other Xiaomi-developed browsers – Mi Browser Pro and Mint Browser, also had the very same “data collecting powers”.
Xiaomi denies all these claims and states that the user’s privacy is the company’s top priority
After the buzz, the company replied to these claims denying all the information published by Forbes. The company states that it always had user’s privacy and internet security as one of its top priorities. The company explained its data collection practices in a bid to ensure that it’s not what it looks. Moreover, the company states that users should not believe in “incorrect news” that comes to disgrace its reputation.
Mi Fans, I shot a video explaining false news regarding Mi Browser. Watch it: https://t.co/JJNqcXDCp2
I repeat, Mi Browser & all Mi internet products are 100% safe. Moreover all data of Indian users is stored locally in India!
— Manu Kumar Jain (@manukumarjain) May 2, 2020
As per the company’s post, Xiaomi collects two types of data: Aggregated usage statistics data and user browsing data syncs. The latter includes info like browsing data history that sync when user signs in and when data sync function is turned on. The former includes system info, preferences, user interface feature usage, responsiveness and etc. According to the company, a lot of mainstream browsers are doing the same.
Furthermore, the company states that it’s not collecting browser information or history while it is on the Incognito mode. To make things more believable, the company shared its browser software code as proof. Despite the company’s response, the researchers at Forbes are still unconvinced. To them, the company is still collecting data about the phone, including unique numbers for identifying the specific device and Android version.
For now, we’ll need to wait and see how this case will advance. If you’re feeling unsafe with Mi Browser you can download and install other browsers via Google Play Store. It’s curious to see such reports coming a few days after the reveal of MIUI 12. With the new software, the company promises a new level of security with a bunch of new features and even a new Privacy-focused brand.