Throw away Chinese phones, Lithuania tells citizens after finding evidence of in-built censorship tools

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Throw away Chinese phones, Lithuania tells citizens after finding evidence of in-built censorship tools:

Lithuania recommends people against buying Chinese phones.

It urged existing users to “get rid” of the phones as soon as possible.

Data security and censorship issues were found with Xiaomi and Huawei phones.

As a warning to all countries with phones made by Chinese companies, Lithuania’s Defence Ministry has urged people to avoid buying “made in China” smartphones. In particular, the country highlights two companies: Xiaomi and Huawei and recommends that people throw away Xiaomi and other Chinese smartphones they are currently using. Reason? The country’s cybersecurity body found in-built censorship in these phones that weeds out a preset list of terms.

It is worth noting that the allegations have been made by Lithuania at a time when the country is involved in a diplomatic and a very public tiff with China. The relationships between the two countries have soured over Lithuania’s permission to allow the opening of Taiwanese Representative Office in its capital Vilnius. China has objected to the name “Taiwan.”

The allegation about the China-made phones has been made in a new report by Lithuania Defence Ministry’s National Cyber Security Centre. The report mentions that a total of 449 terms in Chinese are automatically censored by the system apps, including the default internet browser, in Xiaomi phones. It states that this list is constantly expanding and marks terms like “Free Tibet”, “Long live Taiwan independence” and “democracy movement” for censorship.

Lithuania’s cybersecurity body found the censorship capability on flagship Xiaomi smartphones in Europe, like the Mi 10T 5G. The state-run agency stated that the censorship software had been turned off for the “European Union region”, but can be turned on at any time remotely.

“Our recommendation is to not buy new Chinese phones, and to get rid of those already purchased as fast as reasonably possible,” Defence Deputy Minister Margiris Abukevicius said, as reported by Reuters.

Bugs in made in China phones?

The report by the National Cyber Centre of Lithuania mentioned some other security flaws with Chinese smartphones. For Xiaomi, it stated that a company’s phone was found to be sending encrypted phone usage data to a server in Singapore. Another security flaw was also found with Huawei’s P40 5G. OnePlus, however, managed to come clean out of the investigation.

Like Xiaomi, Huawei has denied the allegations. A Huawei representative in the Baltics, in an interaction with the BNS news wire, stated that the company’s phones do not send user’s data externally.