Throw Away Chinese Smartphones Over Security, Censorship Concerns, Lithuania Says

September 22, 2021 12:32, Last Updated: September 22, 2021 14:31
By Rita Li

Lithuania discouraged consumers on Tuesday from using Chinese mobile devices—found to come with built-in censorship capabilities undermining freedom of speech and personal data security.

It comes after a Sept. 21 government report showing flagship phones sold in Europe by Chinese phone maker Xiaomi have built-in and remotely controlled techniques to detect and block sensitive terms without the user’s permission.

The investigation, conducted by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), targeted China-made 5G smartphones that have been locally supplied since 2020. Selected manufacturers include Chinese telecom giant Huawei and China’s second-largest cellphone maker Xiaomi.

Investigators identified a list with 449 Chinese terms from a Xiaomi device, which could be censored by its default internet browser, including “free Tibet,” “long live Taiwan independence,” and “democratic movement.”

The keyword list was also periodically updated, NCSC said.

Meanwhile, a Xiaomi device was transferring encrypted data to a server in Singapore, according to the report. A security flaw was also found in a Huawei 5G phone.

China-made 5G devices investigated by the National Cyber Security Centre of Lithuania. (Courtesy of NCSC under Ministry of National Defence of Lithuania )

Defense Deputy Minister Margiris Abukevicius recommended consumers not buy new Chinese phones and drop those already purchased, while introducing the report to reporters.

“This is important not only to Lithuania but to all countries which use Xiaomi equipment,” the NCSC said in the report.

Xiaomi did not respond to a request for comment.

Rita Li is a reporter with The Epoch Times, focusing on China-related topics. She began writing for the Chinese-language edition in 2018.

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