We live in a world of data, and that cannot be news to you, not unless you are new to smartphones and social media services. The truth is that pretty much everybody else collects as much personal info as they can legally get away with. And some violate laws and collect much more anyway.
A Quick Glance at MIUI Privacy
“We may collect the following types of information (which may or may not be personal information):
(…)all personal information you provide to us, like your name, mobile phone number, email address, delivery address, ID card, driver license, passport details, Mi Account details (e.g. your security related information, name, birthday, gender), order, invoicing details, materials or data you may sync through Mi Cloud or other apps (e.g. photos, contact lists)(…)
Financial information: information related to completing purchases. For example, bank account number, account holder name, credit card number etc.(…)
Social information: information related to your social activities. For example, current employer, current job title, education background, professional training background etc.(…)
It looks like MIUI collects everything it can – all kinds of personal data. And some of them can be passed on without your consent.
The “No Consent” Section
Here is the section that covers conditions under which your data can be shared without your consent:
“Xiaomi may disclose your personal information without further consent when required under applicable law.
INFORMATION NOT REQUIRING CONSENT
We may share anonymized information and statistics in aggregate form with third parties for business purposes, for example with advertisers on our website, we may share them trends about the general use of our services, such as the number of customers in certain demographic groups who purchased certain products or who carried out certain transactions.
For the avoidance of doubt, Xiaomi may collect, use or disclose your personal information without your consent if it is and only to the extent it is allowed explicitly under local data protection laws.”
In other words, if an obscure local law in China, the USA, or even Nigeria requires that your private info be handed over, Xiaomi will comply. Scary; right? If you are bothered, it is worse than you think. Why? This is pretty much what you accept when you use similar services from most other platforms, including iOS and Android OS.
If Xiaomi collects everything – and others do the same, do you have any options if you value your privacy?
If You Want Privacy
As said earlier, this is the data age. Private, personal data has become the default commodity of trade. Your information is the core of the product. Not a lot of people seem to care. But if you do, what are your options?
Some groups are working on privacy-focused smartphone platforms that do not collect your personal information and also shield you from others who want to collect it. Such prospects include eelo, Ubuntu Touch, and Pure OS.
Progress has been slow though with eelo; it isn’t ready yet. Ubuntu Touch has been active and is in use around the world by a small community. The first Pure OS phone isn’t expected till January 2019.
As such, if you want privacy right now, ditch Android and iOS and go buy a smartphone running Ubuntu Touch, or ditch using digital products entirely to get off the grid.
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