According to recent research, top smartphone manufacturers such as Xiaomi, Oppo, OnePlus, and others are stealing personal data from your devices. This data appears to be collected without the users’ knowledge or consent, potentially leading to phone tracking and identification.
According to a study published by Cornell University in the United States, Chinese phone manufacturers are stealing massive amounts of sensitive data via their respective operating systems (OS) and built-in apps.
A variety of private actors are stealing the data in question, and researchers are concerned that these Chinese devices:
Send an unsettling amount of Personally Identifiable Information (PII) not only to the device vendor, but also to service providers such as Baidu and Chinese mobile network operators.
Researchers conducted network analysis on several devices purchased from Chinese manufacturers to assess data leakage. The team assumed that the device’s owner was a privacy-conscious individual who had refused to send analytics and personalization data to providers and had avoided using cloud storage or other third-party services.
Overall, our findings paint a troubling picture of user data privacy in the world’s largest Android market, highlighting the critical need for tighter privacy controls to increase ordinary people’s trust in technology companies, many of which are partially state-owned.
What Data is Being Collected?
According to the study, the personally identifiable information (PII) being collected included highly sensitive information such as basic user information such as phone numbers and persistent device identifiers (IMEI and MAC addresses, advertising IDs, and so on), geolocation data that can reveal a user’s physical location, and data related to social connections such as contacts and phone and text metadata.
No Way to Stop it
Researchers claim that there is no way to opt out of this data collection process. Even after the device and user leave China, the data collection continues, despite the fact that each country has its own privacy laws that should influence how information is collected.
The study discovered that data was sent to Chinese mobile operators even when they were not providing service, such as when the device had no SIM card inserted.
The device manufacturers have yet to respond to a request for comment.