Denying any wrongdoing regarding its data collection practices, a top Xiaomi executive on Monday said the company was open to any third-party audit of its user privacy protection measures and asserted that all data of its smartphone users in the country stay in India. Cybersecurity researchers last week accused the Chinese smartphone maker of infringing on the privacy of its phone users by recording their "private" web and phone use habits.
In particular, one of the researchers highlighted that the tracking did not appear to stop even when he used the supposedly private "incognito" mode and added that he could easily decode the data being sent to remote servers and feared that Xiaomi could know what he was watching on his phone.
Talking to reporters in a virtual press conference on Monday, Manu Jain, Vice President, Xiaomi and Managing Director, Xiaomi India, denied that the data the company collects through its browsers are personally identifiable.
"We have nothing to hide. We are open to any kind of investigation," Jain said.
Xiaomi, which is India's largest smartphone seller, also said on Monday that it had made software updates available for its browser products including, preloaded Mi Browser, Mi Browser Pro on Google Play, and Mint Browser on Google Play. These software updates include an option in incognito mode for all users of both browsers to switch on/off the aggregated data collection, the company said.
"Moreover, it is wrong to assume that we send data of Indian users to China. All data of Indian smartphone users remain in India," Jain said.
He also said that the recent changes that the Indian government introduced to the foreign direct investment (FDI) policy "should not be a big challenge to the company" as rarely does it require investments from the parent company to support its business in India.
"We make less amount of profit, but we do make a profit (in India)," he said.
The Centre last month amended the FDI policy to check opportunistic takeovers of Indian companies amid the Covid-19 pandemic. It decided to put all FDI proposals from countries sharing a border with India under the government approval route. Companies whose beneficial ownership also lies in such countries will have to undergo government scrutiny for any change in foreign holding.
With restrictions easing under lockdown 3.0, Xiaomi is now gearing up to resume its smartphone manufacturing and sales in India and the company announced several measures to help its partners maintain business continuity. Among these measures included Mi Commerce aimed at blurring the difference between online and offline sales. Xiaomi also announced that its flagship Mi10 smartphone will be launched on May 8, while the Redmi Note 9 Pro will go on sale on Tuesday.
While the company has resumed its e-commerce operations for Green and Orange zones in India, approximately 50 per cent of its stores in these two zones might open up soon.