Xiaomi promises to set up data center in India to reduce mobile security risk

Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi is planning to set up a data center in India next year to store local user data to deflect concerns about privacy, Reuters reported.

Today’s promise is aimed at pleasing the Indian government authorities who are concerned about the latest report from the Indian Air Force that warned its manpower not to use Xiaomi smartphones because Xiaomi shared its mobile phone user data with its head quarter in China. Earlier, several Chinese companies faced similar security related questions from Indian government.

Due to the same issue, Lenovo could not go ahead with its plans to acquire BlackBerry, an Canadian company. At the same time, Lenovo bought Motorola Mobility from Google.

Last week, Xiaomi said it was migrating some data on non-Chinese customers away from its servers in Beijing data centers of Amazon Web Services in Singapore and the United States since early 2014. It said that process would be completed by the end of the year.

Xiaomi entered India this year with plans to invest heavily to secure rapid growth in the world’s third-largest smartphone market. Xiaomi rivals include Samsung, Micromax, Karbonn, Lava, etc.

It sells its phones in India via Flipkart.com, the country’s biggest online retailer, and said last month it planned to sell 100,000 phones a week in the country in October.

A Reuters report said Xiaomi faced privacy controversies, including accusations from international security researchers and a government agency in Taiwan that it funnels unauthorized user data back to its servers in Beijing.

Xiaomi Mi3

Indian Air Force had issued alerts to its personnel and their families against using Xiaomi phones on security concerns. India Air Force, in an advisory, asked its personnel and their families to desist from using Chinese Xiaomi Redmi 1s phones as these are believed to be transferring data to their servers in China and could be a security risk.

The Chinese company said it was attempting to contact Indian authorities for more details on local media reports, adding that it did not collect user data without permission.

“We are trying to get to the bottom of this. So far, we have not heard anything from the IAF or any other authorities and have only read media reports. We will reach out to authorities and engage with them to address any concerns that they might have,” said Xiaomi Vice President Hugo Barra.

Earlier this year, IT security solutions provider F-Secure had, in a report, demonstrated how a Xiaomi Redmi 1S phone was sending data, including the user’s IMEI, phone number, and phone numbers of contacts added to the phone book to a remote server, PTI reported.

“Like many other messaging services, we offer messaging, backup, cloud services to our customers. We also have the highest standards of encryption to ensure that users’ data is safe,” he added.

Xiaomi entered the Indian smartphone market in July this year with its Mi3 smartphone priced at Rs 13,999 through e-Commerce major Flipkart. It is estimated that the firm has sold about half a million Redmi devices and 1.2 lakh Mi3 handsets.

Pix source: xinhuanet.com

Anand B


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