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World, Lithuania

Lithuania urges its people to throw away Chinese phones over censorship fears

An assessment by Lithuania's Defense Ministry found a remote censorship function could block phrases such as 'free Tibet' and 'long live Taiwan independence.'

9/22/2021 10:26:00 PM

An assessment by Lithuania 's Defense Ministry found a remote censorship function could block phrases such as 'free Tibet' and 'long live Taiwan independence.'

An assessment by Lithuania 's Defense Ministry found a remote censorship function could block phrases such as 'free Tibet' and 'long live Taiwan independence.'

Experts found three cybersecurity vulnerabilities in the Xiaomi device, one in the Huawei phone and none in the OnePlus model, the report added.While its evaluation of the Huawei smartphone found that the AppGallery—the company's built-in app store—could potentially redirect users to applications containing malware, its findings regarding Xiaomi's 5G device were most notable.

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The companies cited are yet to publicly respond to the report.Newsweekhas reached out to all three for comment.The phone's Mi Browser—the company's native web browser—"collects and periodically sends out data on as many as 61 functionalities regarding user activities on the device," said the report compiled by the Lithuanian Defense Ministry's National Cyber Security Centre.

"In our view, this is excess information collection on user activities. Another risk factor is the fact that the abundant statistical data is sent to Xiaomi servers in third countries that do not observe General Data Protection Regulation via an encrypted channel and is also stored there," said Tautvydas Baksys, who heads the center's Innovation and Training Division. headtopics.com

In a potential clash with Lithuania's freedom of speech requirement, the Xiaomi device was revealed to have an embedded"technical functionality that could censor the content of downloaded material," according to the report.At the time of the assessment, it added, the function—currently disabled for the European market but able to be remotely activated without user consent—included 449 keywords and phrases in Chinese characters such as"free Tibet,""long live Taiwan independence" and"democracy movement."

"Several apps on the smart phone, including Mi Browser, are periodically downloading a list of banned keywords from the manufacturer. If the content the user is downloading contains keywords from the list, it is automatically blocked," the report noted.

Baksys said the remote censorship of words formed in the Latin or Roman alphabet was likely possible.The report arrives at a time of strained relations between China and the Baltic state, which has angered Beijing by forming closer diplomatic ties with Taiwan.

Read more: Newsweek »

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