Xiaomi’s Redmi Note 8 was one of the best-selling Android phones of 2019, according to market analyst Canalys.


Óscar Gutiérrez/CNET

Xiaomi is defending itself from accusations that it’s been collecting private data from people who use its phones and web browser apps. This follows a report Thursday from Forbes that raised concerns about the Chinese phone maker’s data practices. 

In a blog post Friday, Xiaomi laid out some of its data practices, saying it collects aggregated usage statistics on things like responsiveness and performance that can’t be used to identify individuals. The company also said it syncs web browsing history if people have the feature turned on in their settings. The company denied any wrongdoing and said Forbes misunderstood its data privacy principles and policy. 

“Our user’s privacy and internet security is of top priority at Xiaomi; we are confident that we strictly follow and are fully compliant with local laws and regulations,” the company said in its post. 

On Thursday, Forbes cited multiple security researchers who said the company was collecting web history as well as phone data like “unique numbers for identifying the specific device and Android version” that could be connected to an actual human using the device. 

Forbes said security researcher Gabi Cirlig told the publication that when using the default Xiaomi browser on his Redmi Note 8, it “recorded all the sites he visited, including search engine queries” and “every item viewed on a news feed feature of the Xiaomi software.” Cirlig said this tracking appeared to happen even when browsing in incognito or private mode, according to Forbes. 

The phone also reportedly recorded things like folders that were opened and screen swipes. Cirlig told Forbes that the data was sent to remote servers hosted by Chinese tech giant Alibaba, which were then rented by Xiaomi. 

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