The Ministry of Defense of Lithuania advises consumers to avoid buying Chinese mobile phones, and after government reports found that these devices have built-in censorship capabilities, it advises people to throw away the mobile phones they currently own.
The Lithuanian National Cyber Security Agency said on Tuesday that the flagship phones sold by Chinese smartphone giant Xiaomi in Europe have built-in capabilities to detect and censor words such as “Tibetan Freedom”, “Long Live Taiwan Independence” or “Democratic Movement”.
The National Cyber Security Center of the Ministry of National Defense stated in the report that the function of the Mi 10T 5G mobile phone software has been turned off for the “European Union”, but it can be turned on remotely at any time.
“Our suggestion is not to buy new Chinese mobile phones, and get rid of already purchased mobile phones as soon as possible,” Deputy Defense Minister Margiris Abukevicius told reporters when introducing the report.
Xiaomi did not respond to Reuters’ inquiries for comment.
The relationship between Lithuania and China has recently deteriorated. China asked Lithuania to withdraw its ambassador to Beijing last month and said that after Taiwan announced that its mission in Lithuania would be called the Taiwan representative office, it would recall its ambassador to Vilnius.
Taiwan’s missions in Europe and the United States use the name Taipei City and avoid mentioning the island itself, which China claims is its own territory. US President Joe Biden’s national security adviser, Jack Sullivan, spoke with Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrid Simeone last week and emphasized his support for Lithuania in the face of pressure from China.
The National Network Center report also stated that Xiaomi mobile phones are sending encrypted mobile phone usage data to servers in Singapore. It said that China’s Huawei also found a security hole in the P40 5G phone, but did not find any security hole in the phone of another Chinese manufacturer, OnePlus. Huawei’s representative in the Baltic Sea told BNS News that its mobile phones would not send user data to the outside.
According to the report, the list of terms that may be reviewed by the Xiaomi mobile phone system application, including the default Internet browser, currently includes 449 Chinese terms and is constantly being updated.
“This is important not only for Lithuania, but also for all countries that use Xiaomi devices,” the center said in the report.
© Thomson Reuters 2021