When the Indian Government announced a ban on 50+ Chinese applications and games in India, a few common names included TikTok, PUBG Mobile, UC Browser, and all applications from Cheetah Mobile, including the infamous Clean Master. Clean Master from Cheetah Mobile was a pre-installed app on smartphones from leading smartphone brands in the country like Xiaomi, Redmi, Poco, Realme, and Oppo. This meant that if you purchased a smartphone from any of these brands, Clean Master, which is technically a banned app would be present on your phone even if you did not install it manually.

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This led to a lot of questions being asked by consumers to the brands as to why a banned application was pre-installed on their smartphones, that too as a system app which meant that it could not be uninstalled easily by a general user unless they used a workaround. As a result, most brands did update their privacy policy to remove any traces of Clean Master or Cheetah Mobile from their documentation as well as removing CM’s definitions inside the app.

While the issue with Clean Master had settled, there were always concerns regarding the privacy of user data on smartphones manufactured by Chinese OEMs. The US government (just before Donald Trump vacated his President office) had put a ban on investments in Xiaomi with regards to privacy concerns and the fact that WhatsApp recently announced a change in its privacy policy has triggered a sense of importance in people’s minds and is giving rise to more questions about the privacy of their data on the internet.

Whether it is in correspondence with this entire privacy uproar or not, Xiaomi has recently announced a change to its privacy policy which will come into effect on February 25, 2021. Let us take a look at a few highlighting points in Xiaomi’s new updated privacy policy and what it means to the average consumer.

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Xiaomi clearly mentions that some personal information is collected from the user which is necessary for some functions or services to work. The data being collected is only relevant to the service provided to you and you have an option to opt-out of it. However, if you choose to opt-out and not share your data, you may no longer be able to use relevant services/products or even get support from the company. The information collected can either be data that is entered directly by the user, or device-related info like IMEI number, network provider, location information, IP addresses, or even data from third-party apps if you have granted permissions. The collected data is stored on Xiaomi’s servers that at the moment are located in China, India, the US, Germany, Russia, and Singapore.

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It is important to note that data from Indian Xiaomi users are stored locally within India itself in Xiaomi’s own data centers. However, the privacy policy also mentions that while the data is stored in one particular country, it can be transmitted to other countries or regions as well. Interestingly, Xiaomi has also set up a contact/support team with a Grievance Officer dedicated to queries regarding privacy. You can find the details regarding the same in the screenshot attached below.

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As far as Clean Master or Cheetah Mobile is concerned, Xiaomi’s new privacy policy also mentions Cheetah Mobile among several other companies like Tencent, Avast, Antiy, etc. Considering Clean Master is banned in India, we are not sure if Xiaomi is using Cheetah Mobile’s definitions for its cleaner app or if it has been replaced by a different service. Given that the privacy policy has been updated globally, it can be that Cheetah Mobile’s services are still being used by Xiaomi in other regions but not in India.

The rest of the privacy policy remains similar to what it was earlier. Xiaomi stresses the fact that the data collected by them is only to provide service and products relevant to you and in relation to your use of push services. If you have any questions or doubts regarding privacy, or if you wish to know more in detail about what sort of data is being collected and how/where it is being used, you can contact the grievance officer using the contact details listed in their privacy policy.

Needless to say, India needs stricter laws and data protection acts like GDPR so that consumers have more clarity about what sort of information or data of theirs is being collected and to make sure that their data is not being used for malicious reasons.

(H/T: @ashrock22)

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