Xiaomi has released an update to its web browsers to include an option that allows the user to disable data collection on their smartphones when using incognito mode.
The move has come accompanied by an official statement that responds to the debate (and criticism) of data collection at its terminals, after a Forbes article claimed that the company Tracked users’ browsing activities even in incognito mode.
Tracking browsing history is a well-known activity that is used for a variety of purposes and is practiced by all manufacturers in one way or another and with varying levels of transparency. The argument of “security” or “improvement” of the service or application is often cited, but the reality is that the main use remains different: advertising and targeted advertisements. And that at best, because pro-privacy organizations believe that it is also used for mass surveillance.
That is why large browsers offer ways to block such monitoring through the incognito or secure browsing mode. A temporary private browsing session that does not share data with the browser, does not save information about web pages, nor browsing history, web cache, passwords, forms information, cookies or other data from websites, deleting these or other temporary files when we finished the session. Or so it should work …
Xiaomi data collection
Forbes report indicates that Xiaomi phones and their Mint browser do not meet what a user expects incognito and collect aggregated user data even when browsing in incognito mode or using a different browser.
Xiaomi has responded to the question regretting that its position on privacy and the data collection process it practices were “misunderstood and misrepresented” in the Forbes report, noting that it has taken all industry standard measures to guarantee the anonymity of these data and explaining that they are all stored on international servers to address fears that the Chinese government may access them.
However, it does not deny that you have been collecting user data even in incognito mode. The company explains that the data it collects is necessary to optimize your browser and phones to load websites and services faster, something that, it claims, is a common practice used by all Internet companies.
It also explains that the data synchronization process of their browsers naturally requires users to load data, just as they would for Chrome or Firefox. However, he has not explained why he collected those aggregated data in incognito mode, which defeated the purpose of the safe browsing option which are increasingly practiced by users fed up with so much data collection without due transparency.
Xiaomi has responded by updating the Mi Browser browser that includes pre-installed in all its terminals. It has also updated the Mi Browser Pro version and the Mint Browser available on Google Play. In all cases a specific option to enable / disable data collection in the incognito mode of the browsers.
“We believe that this functionality, in combination with our approach to keeping aggregated data in an unidentifiable way, goes beyond any legal requirement and demonstrates our company’s commitment to user privacy,” explained Xiaomi in an official statement in its Blog.
Positive response to the case, but Xiaomi (and all technology companies) must address the upward value of privacy with maximum transparency. Much more when Chinese companies are especially questioned.