Xiaomi states that Mi Browser is safe and the company isn’t collecting user data


Xiaomi

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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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5 Comments

  1. Hanson
    May 3, 2020

    I haven’t used xiaomi devices before but can it be uninstalled?

  2. Kevin Fanch
    May 4, 2020

    Well there are already multiple models of Xiaomi supported by /e/ OS so just check e foundation if your device is supported and flash your phone. /e/ is privacy first android which is totally ungoogled and keeps your data private from any company so you won’t have this issue.

  3. Cyril Dieudonne
    May 4, 2020

    Unfortunately not via settings, but you can delete it if you have a computer nearby and a bit of console writing. Adb is your friend. I am a xiaomi enthusiast but have to say that mi browser is a nightmare. Super crappy.

  4. freedomstolen
    May 4, 2020

    I read about this in its infancy; didn’t know it had matured to this extent! Thanks for posting this; it drove me to check again.

  5. freedomstolen
    May 4, 2020

    Use SD Maid (it’s a paid app, but works) to even remove system apps (that come with the ROM). In the worst case, you can even disable and/or freeze it!

    If you don’t want to use a paid option, at the very least your ROM should ideally provide the option to disable the app.

    Hope it works for you.

    Cheers.