Xiaomi addresses privacy concerns by moving international users’ data out of China

2 Comments

Credit: Xiaomi

The leading Chinese phone-maker Xiaomi, which has caught western attention through a combination of an iOS-esque Android interface, pretty good value and the poaching of Google Android product chief Hugo Barra, is planning to migrate non-Chinese users’ data out of the Middle Kingdom.

In a Wednesday Facebook post, Barra said the data would head to [company]Amazon[/company] AWS data centers in California, Oregon and Singapore by the end of 2014. Next year, Xiaomi will start using data centers in Brazil and India too.

Latency is a big reason for all this (Xiaomi is also now using [company]Akamai[/company]’s global content delivery network) but so are privacy and local data protection regulations. Back in August, security researchers at F-Secure noted users’ details were being “silently” sent off to the company’s Chinese servers. Xiaomi responded by making its MIUI cloud messaging service opt-in and encrypting the phone numbers that it sends back to Xiaomi’s servers.

Last Sunday, a report noted that the Indian Air Force warns against the use of Xiaomi devices, again because they send data to Chinese servers. All this is clearly a very big deal for those that worry about Chinese spying, so it’s not hard to see why Xiaomi – which wants to push hard into new markets – is trying to make itself a safer option.

It’s also not hard to see the parallel with [company]Apple[/company], which recently began storing Chinese customers’ data in Chinese data centers. This sort of (entirely understandable) mistrust cuts both ways.

2 Comments

Mike

Having the servers run local to a country affords no more security if they still send data back to the mother ship.

MrGutts

Xiaomi has more pressing issues to worry about. They are very much closed off to the Western market. They also are having issues supply and demand. You can’t even get a Mi4 without going though some fake looking website pretending to be Xiaomi and then you run into ridiculous price gouging on the phones.

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