Home Tech An expert explains the truth about the alleged censorship of Xiaomi phones

An expert explains the truth about the alleged censorship of Xiaomi phones

An expert explains the truth about the alleged censorship of Xiaomi phones

Lithuanian authorities carried out an investigation into several brands of Chinese-origin phones (not very rigorous as they looked at only one device) and recommended that citizens throw away their Chinese phones immediately.

The allegations are serious, especially for Xiaomi, as the Baltic country’s cybersecurity authority claims.I found a list of branded smartphones that can be used to censor certain words and topics.

However, XDA analyzed the subject in more detail and the well-known website concludes that the subject is not quite what it seems or that Lithuanian experts may have misinterpreted something here.

Although, as stated by the National Cybersecurity Center, there is a list called “MiAdBlacklistConfig”, in which you can find various terms with “Titles, names and other information about various religious and political groups and social movements”, seems to have a different purpose.

XDA’s Adam Conway took a Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra with the current ROM from Xiaomi.eu and thoroughly analyzed that OS version. This is a bloatware free edition for the EU, but it is based on the Chinese MIUI version of Android.

Conway found the list in the My Video app and was able to confirm that the file contains the names of various religious and political groups – but there is much more to the list.

Analyzing the file, I found that the vast majority of records are related to sex, pornography and other smartphone brands

While it is true that Tibet, Hong Kong and religious groups are mentioned, terms like “Mi”, “Xiaomi Mi5” and “Mi Mobile Phone” are also mentioned, among others. Especially the last one is weird, because why would Xiaomi “censor” himself?

Lithuanian security researchers originally stated:

This function should allow a Xiaomi device to perform an analysis of multimedia content arriving on the phone and search for keywords based on the MiAdBlacklist received from the server.

Once the device detects that the content contains certain keywords, it filters that content so the user cannot see it. […] It is important to note that this function is remotely enabled by the manufacturer.

According to XDA, the purpose of this list is not general censorship, but to block certain ads.. The manufacturer has had problems with this in the past, especially with vulgar advertisements, and even today they don’t have it completely under control.

The conclusion of XDA Developers is that while this system could be used for censorship, there is no indication that this is happening now.

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