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Xiaomi’s phones are reportedly recording and sending user data [Updated]

Xiaomi says it’s normal

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As data tracking became popular as a statistical tool, technology started leveraging user data as a means to improve services. Concurrently, privacy became an important concern for all users. Unfortunately, data collection isn’t as acceptable as companies want them to be.

Based on a report from Forbes, Xiaomi now finds itself in the same gray space between data collection and privacy invasion. According to the report, Gabriel Cirlig, a security researcher, discovered that the Redmi Note 8 recorded everything that the user does and sends it over to Russian and Singaporean servers. This includes browser data, changed settings, and played music.

Further, Cirlig discovered the same flaw in the Redmi K20 and the Mi 10. When sent, the data is barely encrypted, enabling him to see what data was sent.

According to another security researcher, Andrew Tierney, web browser data is still recorded regardless of which browser is used. This includes Xiaomi’s built-in browser and the supposedly safer DuckDuckGo browser.

In Xiaomi’s defense, a spokesperson defended against the allegations, saying that privacy laws are still being upheld. Further, the data is anonymized, supposedly increasing security. Finally, the company said that the practice is standard even for other companies.

Regardless of where you stand on data collection, it’s still important to know that your device is sending data to servers without your knowledge.

UPDATE [5/3/2020]: Recently, Xiaomi has issued additional statements regarding the security issue. On Twitter, Manu Jain, Xiaomi’s Managing Director for India, doubled down on the company’s defensive position.

“As an internet company, Xiaomi [India] takes user privacy extremely seriously. Mi Browser follows similar protocols as any other leading browser int he world. It does not collect any user data that the user has not explicitly given permission or consent to,” the statement read. Further, Jain assures users that the data collected (with consent) is used to improve services.

SEE ALSO: Xiaomi unveils MIUI 12, here’s everything you need to know

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Xiaomi wants to make its own processor, Huawei ban no deterrent

Xiaomi is betting big

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Pretty much every major smartphone maker today relies on a third-party for processors. Qualcomm and MediaTek lead the race, while Samsung has its in-house Exynos lineup. Huawei’s Kirin series has long been its first choice of processor for flagships, but this could change soon.

Xiaomi wants to join this elite club and intends to continue working on its own chips. According to Xiaomi founder and CEO Lei Jun, the Chinese smartphone maker continues to design its own chips and shall announce the results when new developments are made.

The announcement’s timing is of utmost importance since US-China relations have radically deteriorated in the last couple of years. The ban on Huawei has revoked its access to Arm chip designs. It means that the telecom giant can no longer produce any Kirin-branded processor.

The ban sets a negative precedent for Chinese companies that inherently depend on Western technology. It’s like a stack and the processor’s design is the heart. All new developments are made on top of each other, making it near-impossible for Chinese companies to move forward without Arm design.

Amid the uncertainty, Xiaomi’s announcement is confidence infusing. It first released its in-house chip in 2017 and was called Surge S1. The affordable chipset has been seen in Mi 5C only so far.

After the Huawei ban, Chinese companies have ramped up their effort to go truly independent. The Chinese government has also rolled out tax incentives to boost chipset production. On the same lines, Huawei has intensified its efforts to develop Harmony OS, a direct competitor of Android.

These bets are all long-term in nature and it’s unlikely we’ll see any advancement in the near future. But, the US-China clash has kickstarted a new race, a race that’s aimed towards digital technological superiority.

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Enterprise

Apple’s Tim Cook is now worth a billion dollars

Officially a billionaire

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A few years ago, Apple earned the highly distinguished status of becoming a trillion-dollar company. Without pausing to catch its breath, the company is already barreling towards the 2-trillion mark. Coinciding with his company’s success, Apple’s Tim Cook is now worth a billion dollars.

According to Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index, Cook’s net worth has just passed the US$ 1 billion mark just as Apple’s shares substantially grew last week. Just recently, the company announced a 4-in-1 split for its stocks due to the success.

The Apple CEO’s new position in the success column is an interesting one. Unlike his peers in the industry, Cook is one of the few CEOs who did not found his own company. The current leader took over the reins from the late Steve Jobs back in 2011. Since then, Apple’s success skyrocketed to its current status today. Back in 2015, amidst all the riches he acquired, Cook promised to give away most of his money to philanthropic endeavors.

Apple’s recent success is a stroke of good news compared to other big tech companies in the US. Last week, the biggest tech CEOs faced an onslaught of antitrust issues surrounding the tech industry. For example, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg failed to defend his bullying and acquiring tactics to stomp competitors down. Though surviving this barrage, Apple is currently facing its own set of issues worldwide, including antitrust issues in the EU and a strange branding lawsuit in Canada.

If the current trend continues, Apple is set to ascend even further up the ranks of tech companies in the near future.

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Enterprise

WeChat ban can sink iPhone sales worldwide

Sinks by up to 30 percent

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Last week, President Donald Trump signed an official executive order banning TikTok and WeChat starting September 15. Though the spotlight is on TikTok, the pending WeChat ban can also impact the technology industry quite heavily. According to an analyst’s report, the WeChat ban can sink iPhone sales worldwide.

According to renowned Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo (via MacRumors), the impending ban will determine the iPhone’s fate in the Chinese market. WeChat, a platform owned by Tencent, is a popular messaging app in China. While the app’s presence is drastically lesser in other territories, Chinese immigrants also use the platform to stay in touch with relatives back in China.

If the ban passes, Apple’s App Store can potentially remove the app for all users around the world. Currently, the executive order’s wording is still vague. No one knows if a ban will remove WeChat from American iPhones or all iPhones all over the world.

In the best-case scenario wherein it’s only the US, global iPhone sales will likely drop by up to only 6 percent. This likely pertains to Chinese immigrants in the US. However, in the worst-case scenario wherein iPhones everywhere lose the app, Apple’s sales will sink by up to a whopping 30 percent.

Despite the overwhelming dominance of Chinese brands in China, Apple still retains a sizable share in the country’s market. Compared to last year, the American brand’s market share actually grew in size. If Kuo’s more pessimistic scenario comes to pass, Trump’s orders might have inadvertently doomed Apple’s business in China.

SEE ALSO: Apple is not interested in TikTok

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