One month after getting a notice from the Taiwanese government, the mainland China-based smartphone maker Xiaomi Inc said it will migrate some data overseas to Amazon Servers in the US and servers in Singapore to ward off criticism that it is collecting users information from its sold phones in third countries.
Currently, Xiaomi has its servers in Beijing and the overseas servers will be used to store data from the non-Chinese users, said Xiaomi vice president Hugo Barra in a blog post on Google Plus.
Early this month, Xiaomi faced several privacy-violation accusations from international security researchers and a government agency in Taiwan that the unauthorized user data is sent to its servers in Beijing, which may be used negatively in adverse situations.
Without the user’s knowledge or consent, it was observed that the Xiaomi phones send personal data of the user once he or she boots it up. Back home in China, the info was kept in store by the company which says the feature is to allow users to send SMS messages without having to pay operator charges.
“What Xiaomi did originally was clearly wrong: they were collecting your address book and sending it to themselves without you ever agreeing to it,” said Mikko Hypponen of F-Secure that has revealed the problem. “What’s more, it was sent unencrypted.”
In response, Hugo Barra said:”We’re moving your data! User experience is hugely important to us. As a global Internet company, we really care about speed and we’re also fully committed to storing our users’ data securely at all times.
He said the migration is taking place in three phases — first one is E-commerce migration, which will migrate customer’s information from the Beijing office to Amazon AWS data centers in California and in Singapore.
“We also began using Akamai’s global CDN infrastructure to speed up static page loads. This migration process will be completed by the end of October and will benefit users in all of our international markets — Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Taiwan,” he wrote.
The blog claimed that the shift also helps boost the website speed by at least 30% in markets such as Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and as much as 200% in India.
Under Phase 2, the MIUI interface services migration was taken up to transfer all international users from their Beijing data centers to overseas, including Mi Account, Cloud Messaging and Mi Cloud services. “We are expecting to complete this migration by the end of 2014, with some parts being completed even sooner,” Barra wrote. “With this migration, we are expecting to cut network request latency for users in India by up to 350ms, and users in Malaysia to experience 2-3 times faster Mi Cloud photosync.”
Under Phase 3, Xiaomi honcho said the company would go local by 2015 to improve the performance of its services for users in large and fast-growing markets such as India and Brazil.
Xiaomi has significantly boosted its market position in Singapore, India and Malaysia, despite intense competition from the industry giants like Apple and Samsung. Xiaomi is currently known for its flash sale of Mi3 and Redmi 1s smartphones which sell at the rate of 100,000 in less than 5 seconds, creating a new trend in online sales.
Otherwise, the Chinese hackers are known for stealing user info from the databases and their access to the data stored within the country comes handy to target companies and customers. Recently, the Chinese web monitoring group Greatfire.org said the pro-government hackers sought to obtain Chinese Apple users’ personal data, though the allegation was denied by the government.
Xiaomi is not alone in collecting the user data as Apple and other phones do send similar data with permission but some apps pre-installed may even send the user data unknowingly.