Lithuania’s deputy defense minister warned that certain brands of Chinese-made cell phones are designed to censor without the need to ask the user’s permission, so he recommended to stop purchasing Chinese phones and getting rid of the ones you already have, EuroNews reported.
Lithuania’s National Cybersecurity Center (NCSC) conducted a review and published a report on Chinese devices and found that major brands made in China come with the ability to censor automatically.
The NCSC said on Tuesday, Sept. 21 that Chinese manufacturer Xiaomi’s Mi 10T 5G phone was able to detect and censor phrases such as “Free Tibet,” “Long live Taiwan independence,” and “democracy movement.”
In addition, several of the factory-installed apps, such as the Mi browser, are periodically updating a list of banned words that Xiaomi compiles, the NCSC report claims.
At the time of publishing the report, the list of banned Chinese words or terms was 449.
“We found that Xiaomi phones sold in Lithuania had the content filtering function disabled and did not censor content, but censored keyword lists were still sent periodically,” said NCSC head of innovation Tatuvydas Bakšys in a statement.
The cybersecurity agency clarifies that although the function to censor these words is disabled on devices sold in Europe, the feature can be enabled remotely.
“The device is technically enabled to activate the functionality remotely at any time without the user’s permission and to begin censoring the downloaded content,” Bakšys added.
The NCSC report also found that Xiaomi’s browser gathered excessive amounts of data, encrypted it, and sent it to servers in Singapore, where the European Union’s general data protection regulations do not apply.
At the presentation of the NCSC report, Lithuania’s Deputy Minister of National Defense, Margiris Abukevičius, said, “Our recommendation is to not buy new Chinese phones, and to get rid of those already purchased as fast as reasonably possible.”
Other phones inspected by the NCSC included the Huawei P40 5G and the OnePlus 8T 5G.
Huawei’s built-in app store, AppGallery, presents a security threat to users because it automatically redirects searches to third-party app stores known to harbor malware.
In the report, the National Cybersecurity Center warns, “This is important not only to Lithuania but to all countries which use Xiaomi equipment.”
Lithuania affirms its determination to stand up to the CCP
China and Lithuania made headlines recently when the European country decided to open a Taiwan ’embassy’ in the capital Vilnius,under the name ‘Taiwan Representative Office,’ which infuriated the communist authorities who claim sovereignty over the island and are doing their best to suppress its name.
The Chinese regime decided to withdraw its ambassador from Lithuania. It published an editorial in one of its propaganda media threatening to cut diplomatic relations and give it a ‘hard blow’ together with Russia.
However, the publication of the NCSC report and the deputy minister’s statements reaffirm the determination of the Lithuanian government, which said it would not be intimidated by China.
“We are small, but we are tough, and we will make our own decisions on who we partner with,” said Šakalienė, the parliamentarian who took the initiative to open the Taiwanese embassy.
“We are not changing our decision, we are still very happy that we are opening the Taiwanese Representative Office in Vilnius and we are hoping to have an even closer relationship in terms of trade, technologies, culture, health and other areas with Taiwan.”