China’s smartphone-maker Xiaomi plans to launch a data center in India to (and store data) Indian users after the Indian Air Force expressed security concerns over the phone automatically sending user data to its servers in China.
In an official press release, the company stated: “We believe the advisory circular issued by IAF is based on events about 3 months back. It refers to the F-Secure test done on the Redmi 1S in July 2014 about the activation of our Cloud Messaging service (which enables users to send text messages for free, similar to other popular messaging services).”
We are moving our Indian users' data to servers outside of China, and to India in 2015, it added.
The Indian Air Force’s issued a circular earlier this month warning personnel and family members “that the phone was forwarding carrier name, phone number, IMEI (the device identifier) plus numbers from address book and text messages back to Beijing”.
Hugo Barra, vice president of Xiaomi, took to Facebook on October 27 to say, “There have been reports about an IAF circular claiming that Xiaomi phones are a security threat. While we are attempting to reach Indian authorities to learn specifics, we would like to clarify a few points to assure our users that we treat your privacy seriously.”
Barra noted that “Xiaomi offers an opt-in secure internet service, which is optional, so users can turn the service on and off whenever they like. The company also provides access to Mi Cloud that allows users to back up and sync their data and information on a cloud.”
Further, users have access to a cloud messaging service that allows free text messaging between other Mi devices. Despite rumors that all the data is collected by the Chinese government, Xiaomi states that it does not collect any data associated with the services it provides, such as Mi Cloud and the Xiaomi Cloud Messaging service, unless the user provides explicit consent by switching on corresponding services.
According to Barra, Xiaomi began “since early 2014 migrating services and corresponding data for Indian users from our Beijing data centers to Amazon AWS data centers in Singapore and USA. Parts of this migration will be completed by the end of October, and all of it will be completed by the end of 2014. In 2015, we plan to launch a local data center in India to serve the needs of (and store data for) our Indian users.”