The Lithuanian Defence Ministry has urged consumers to discard Chinese-made phones from companies such as Xiaomi and Huawei “as fast as possible” over major security concerns, and to avoid buying new ones in future.
According to a report from the Lithuanian National Cyber Security Centre, several 5G mobiles from Chinese manufacturers were tested by security experts.
The report claims that one model of Xiaomi phone – the Mi 10T 5G – has built-in censorship tools, which can detect and censor terms which are displeasing to the Chinese Communist Party, including “Free Tibet,” “Long Live Taiwan independence,” “Democracy movement,” or at least 449 more phrases.
This alleged censorship tool is reportedly switched off in Europe, but according to the report could be activated at any moment.
The Lithuanian report also alleged that the Xiaomi device was transferring encrypted phone data to a server located in Singapore.
“This is important not only to Lithuania but to all countries which use Xiaomi equipment,” the Centre said.
Moreover, the report alleges there are glaring security flaws in Huawei’s P40 5G phone, which it says risks security breaches for users.
“The official Huawei application store AppGallery directs users to third-party e-stores where some of the applications have been assessed by anti-virus programs as malicious or infected with viruses,” the Lithuanian Ministry of Defence said in a statement.
“Our recommendation is to not buy new Chinese phones, and to get rid of those already purchased as fast as reasonably possible,” said Defence Deputy Minister Margiris Abukevicius.
However, both Chinese companies deny these charges.
“Xiaomi’s devices do not censor communications to or from its users,” a company spokeswoman reportedly told the BBC, adding that the business was totally GDPR compliant.
“Xiaomi has never and will never restrict or block any personal behaviours of our smartphone users, such as searching, calling, web browsing or the use of third-party communication software.”
Moreover, Huawei alleges that no user data is sent externally to other servers.
“Data is never processed outside the Huawei device,” said a spokesman, adding that Huawei performs security checks to ensure that the apps being downloaded by users are safe.
“AppGallery only collects and processes the data necessary to allow its customers to search, install and manage third-party apps, in the same way as other app stores.”
Controversially, in the past, Huawei employees have reportedly been caught conducting corporate espionage against US company T-Mobile.
Huawei: The company and the security risks explained https://t.co/0Y77XAESJM
— Sky News (@SkyNews) January 28, 2019