Taiwan Government Accuse Smartphone Makers of Violating Privacy Standards

Top smartphone makers including Xiaomi, HTC and Samsung may be blacklisted in Taiwanese market following a probe that revealed some of their smartphones may be sending authorized users’ data outside Taiwan contrary to the regulator’s privacy standards.

Taiwanese government might consider banning top Smartphone makers from selling their brands in Taiwan Market, following an investigation that reveals back door holes in their products that would allow foreign entities to spy on Taiwan users.

Taiwan’s National Communication commission listed 12 smartphone brands that may be axed from the Taiwan market for violating the regulator’s privacy standards spelt out in Personal Information Protection Act. The law outlines the how personal information should be collected, processed and used by entities operating in Taiwan.

Investigation into privacy violation by smartphones makers in Taiwan began two months ago following media reports that china’s Xiaomi Technology co. smartphones were secretly “calling home” and sending unauthorized users’ data to Xiaomi’s oversee servers in China.

NCC’s vice president Hsiao-Cheng Yu, declined to divulge the names of the affected brands, but there is wide speculation that top smartphones makers including HTC, Sony, and Samsung may be in the list of violators.  Xiaomi smartphones are among the most popular smartphones brands in Taiwan, followed by others from HTC, Samsung and Apple.

Yu said NCC’s full report will be released in a matter of weeks adding that companies found guilty of violating the Privacy standards may be suspended from the Taiwanese market or pay a hefty fine of up to £4.1 million. The government may also consider giving the violators a grace period to modify their devices. “The key issue is that companies have to tell consumers if they are collecting their personal data or transferring it elsewhere,” says Yu Hsiao-cheng.

Xiaomi has refuted claims that its smartphones have back door holes that allows sending of User’s authorized data in oversee databases. The Chinese smartphone maker said its devices “never actively send any private user information without the users’ approval”. Samsung declined to comment on the ongoing Taiwan probe, but said the company “considers the privacy and security of consumers’ data a top priority”.

NCC’s probes comes in the wake of an ongoing debate on privacy in the Tech world. User’s privacy has become a highly contested issue in the recent past, with privacy advocates accusing companies of colluding with government agencies to sabotage user’s privacy. The bone of contention lies on where to draw the line between actively spying on customers’ and genuine harvesting of user’s data to improve service delivery. US carriers such as Verizon Wireless and AT&T have been at loggerheads with privacy groups for tracking users’ online communication using super cookies.

Apple is yet to issue a public statement on the Taiwanese probe, but that is not surprising given the company has a long history of privacy controversies. The Silicon Valley tech giant has been accused in past for colluding with US intelligence agencies, NSA and the FBI to have implants in their smartphone in order to spy on Chinese users. The claims almost saw Beijing leadership deny apple a license to Launch IPhone 6 smartphones in the Chinese market. Apple CEO Tim Cook is on record saying the Company do not work with the government to sabotage the privacy of its customers.

Top/Featured Image: By OpenClips / Pixabay (https://pixabay.com/en/taiwan-flag-province-of-china-156384/)

Ali Raza Ali is a freelance journalist, having 5 years of experience in web journalism and marketing. He contributes to various online publications. With a Master degree, now he combines his passions for writing about internet security and technology for SecurityGladiators. When he is not working, he loves traveling and playing games.
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