back to article Lithuania tells its citizens to throw Xiaomi mobile devices in the bin

Lithuania's National Cyber Security Centre has told its citizens to get rid of Xiaomi-made mobile devices amid fears that the Chinese company could remotely enable censorship tools. In an audit it published yesterday [PDF] the agency called out Xiaomi's Mi 10T 5G phone handset firmware for being able to censor terms such as " …

  1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

    CHaaS

    Communist Handler as a Service

    Buying a device filled to the brim with sensors from communists... what could go wrong?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: CHaaS

      Pretty much the same as buying one from Capitalists! :-(

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: CHaaS

        Uh, dude, the Chinese ARE Capitalists, hadn't you noticed?

        And I'm fairly certain I'm allowed to discuss pretty much anything in politics in these here parts, without my hardware trying to censor me ...

        1. Rich 2

          Re: CHaaS

          No. The Chinese are fascists. At least the government is. They are only communist/capitalist (delete as you see fit) economically. In most other political practices they are fascists.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: CHaaS

            Where is it written that you can't be both fascist and communist/capitalist(delete as you see fit) simultaneously?

            Is pure ideology ever logical?

            1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

              Re: CHaaS

              > Is pure ideology ever logical?

              Ideoknow, prolely not.

          2. jgarbo
            Facepalm

            Re: CHaaS

            In Fascism, the corporations control the govt, eg, USA. In Socialism, the govt controls the corporations, eg, China. Your ignorance will impede your progress.

            1. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
              Devil

              Re: CHaaS

              是的,同志

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: CHaaS

                是的 同志

                Why the comma?

            2. doublelayer Silver badge

              Re: CHaaS

              "In Fascism, the corporations control the govt"

              Incorrect. Fascism is tricky to define, but an easy method to start is to look at those countries which undoubtedly represented it: Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany. In each case, corporations did hold more power than in Communist countries, as they continued to exist. They did not control the government. The government got its power through its own force and it used that force to control the nation as it wished, including limiting, changing, or destroying corporations if they didn't do what the government wanted. You have demonstrated a lack of knowledge of what Fascism is, and therefore the rest of your comments do not need further rebuttal.

              1. martinusher Silver badge

                Re: CHaaS

                Fascist Italy was the closest thing to a true corporatist state. Germany's Nazism had populist roots but relied on corporate money and eventually became more corporatist after the Nazis took power. The Nazis had a lot to offer corporations -- plenty of work through rearmament, a disciplined workforce (you got to work where you were told, no unions or anything socialist looking like that).

                A lot of effort has gone into trying to conflate Fascism with Communism over the years, starting mostly in the 1980s. The process had to wait till the 1980s because you had to start losing older people -- Depression era, WW1 and WW2 veterans -- because they'd laugh at the suggestion that the two were the same. So far I've found that people who swallowed that line find it very difficult to get their heads around the notion that from a Nazi perspective Bolsheism was a Jewish ideology, part of the Zionist plot to take over the world.

                1. SkippyBing

                  Re: CHaaS

                  I dispute that, Travellers in the Third Reich by Julia Boyd, collates the experiences of a range of foreigners in Germany through the 30s and 40s. Many of them recount asking what the difference was between Fascism and Communism and not getting a satisfactory answer. So conflation of the two didn't start in the '80s.

                2. doublelayer Silver badge

                  Re: CHaaS

                  Of course they're different, in the sense that one of the things most attempts to define fascism can agree upon is that, if you're going to be fascist, you have to dislike communism. In execution, they're also different--one allows private corporations, one doesn't. In many other respects, they're very similar in their authoritarian governing methods. These differences are clear, but they don't change the fact that both are very bad, nor do they change the fact that defining fascism as corporate control is completely wrong. Corporate-controlled states are possible, undesirable, and different from fascist ones.

            3. very angry man

              Re: CHaaS

              you can tell when you are on the right track, the down votes come rolling in!

              1. TheWeetabix

                Re: CHaaS

                Well aren't you edgy?

            4. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

              Fascism vs Socialism

              The only robust distinction I've ever been able to find between Fascism and Socialism is that if they're honest or explicit about their power&social structure then they're fascist, if they're dishonest or implicit then they're socialist.

              Otherwise, both are identical : necessarily totalitarian states with the power restricted wholly to an elite/cadre.

              Socialism could _theoretically_ exist in the form that the ingenuous insist it always _must_, but only so long as critical preconditions exist. These include: modification of human DNA and/or cloning, in order to achieve an absolute homogeneity of citizens and of a wholly selfless nature and precisely zero inclination among anyone towards parasitism or even social loafing: costless teleportation of resources ; and long-range telepathy to enable immediate, whole-of-country, and frictionless adjustment and coordination of resourcing.

              In the absence of at least these preconditions, socialism and fascism differ only in their public honesty.

          3. Steve Medway

            Re: CHaaS

            Personally I call the CCP a totalitarian capitalist regime with a veneer of communism running a country called China.

      2. LazLong

        Re: CHaaS

        Cite one single similar instance of such an egregious breach of freedom of speech perpetrated by an EU, UK, Japanese, or US firm to back up your baseless accusation. Don't just spout contrarian bullshit you anonymous coward.

        Thank you to Lithuania and their contribution to international freedom of speech.

        1. cornetman Silver badge

          Re: CHaaS

          Well how about this then?

          https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/17/technology/apple-china-censorship-data.html

          1. doublelayer Silver badge

            Re: CHaaS

            Great proof that China isn't alone in censorship: an article talking about an American company censoring for and only in China. Maybe you could try proving the original claim instead?

            1. cornetman Silver badge

              Re: CHaaS

              The claim was "Cite one single similar instance of such an egregious breach of freedom of speech perpetrated by an EU, UK, Japanese, or US firm to back up your baseless accusation. "

              Here is a story about Apple, an American company, censoring freedom of speech at the behest of an authoritarian government.

              Does it really matter if it is only in China or do we only give a shit when it affects us?

              1. LazLong

                Re: CHaaS

                "Here is a story about Apple, an American company, censoring freedom of speech at the behest of an authoritarian government.

                Does it really matter if it is only in China or do we only give a shit when it affects us?"

                No, what matters is my original statement, facts, and semantics.

                Apple's cooperation with China's government was done under color of law, and therefore isn't similar AT ALL to what Lithuania has discovered.

                1. sabroni Silver badge

                  Re: Apple's cooperation with China's government was done under color of law

                  But you don't think the Chinese government mandates that Xiaomi filter search terms?

              2. doublelayer Silver badge

                Re: CHaaS

                Yes, the situations are different. I don't like either, but one which Apple did because China required it of them is different from Xiaomi doing it despite there being no legal requirement to do so. In Apple's case, they're distressingly willing to do what China says, but if China stopped saying it, Apple would turn it off.

          2. LazLong

            Re: CHaaS

            Wasn't done secretly, and the products aren't exported outside the area where this action was mandated by law, so no potential abuse by China's intelligence agencies.

          3. jgarbo

            Re: CHaaS

            You're quoting NYT? What next, Marvel Comics?

        2. elsergiovolador Silver badge

          Re: CHaaS

          The censorship also works in the West, but it has been outsourced to private companies.

          Just a random example how it works:

          Article on Joe and Hunter Biden Censored By The Intercept

          You may want to read those books: "Woke Inc." by Vivek Ramswamy and "American Marxism" by Mark R Lewin.

          1. Casca

            Re: CHaaS

            Try with someone who isnt a right wing nut.

            1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

              Re: CHaaS

              If you resort to ad hominem, you may check if your sources of information don't manipulate you into succumbing to siege mentality.

        3. very angry man

          Re: CHaaS

          Cite one single similar instance of such an egregious breach of freedom of speech perpetrated by an EU, UK, Japanese, or US firm to back up your baseless accusation. Don't just spout contrarian bullshit you anonymous coward.

          cisco, m$, google, amozon, the list is so long why did you even ask?

  2. jake Silver badge

    Hey, be nice to Xiaomi!

    Winnie the Pooh came to them in a dream and said that it was good for The People!

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Can it be flashed to raw android?

    Anonymous because - well because.....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Can it be flashed to raw android?

      If you consider LineageOS to be "raw android" (it's probably about as close as one can get), It looks like a lot of them can be, yes!

      https://lineageosroms.com/xiaomi/

  4. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Free Tibet!

    With purchase of one Tibet at regular price

    Seriously though, this has actual solid facts and gives me something to point at when people want to buy cheap shit phones.

    1. Phil Kingston

      Re: Free Tibet!

      I'd maybe wait for another source to confirm.

      But probably not wherever that Supermicro spying chip stuff came from.

      1. FILE_ID.DIZ

        Re: Free Tibet!

        Bloomberg?

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Free Tibet!

          Bite your tongue!

        2. jgarbo

          Re: Free Tibet!

          Free Tibet!! Bring back slavery, monastic pedophilia, poverty, starvation, feudal landlords...oh and levitating loons.

          1. doublelayer Silver badge

            Re: Free Tibet!

            Or, since the Chinese Tibet has many of those things but with different people getting the rewards, you could have a Tibet where the citizens decide what they wanted. A democratic one with liberty, or maybe it could be called free. Advocating for freedom doesn't mean we want to return to a situation which occurred several decades ago, nor do many Tibetans want that either. A feudal dictatorship and a modern dictatorship are both unacceptable.

          2. S4qFBxkFFg

            Re: Free Tibet!

            I hope you aren't doing this for free.

  5. werdsmith Silver badge

    Any phone that takes other the air updates could find censorship or even spy software trojanned in.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Fortunately, the words "could" and "will" do not hold the same meaning.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        You don’t say !!!

        Got any other revelations?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    sign me up

    If I could load that file from an ad-blocker database myself.

  7. doublelayer Silver badge

    Better approach

    Instead of banning a specific manufacturer or just asking people to throw away equipment that they're not going to trash, make software like this illegal, big fines for selling it. Then they will either remove it or your government gets a big fine and they stop selling it. That also helps when you find some other manufacturer has started to include that.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Better approach

      I seriously doubt BigBidness will allow that.

      They think they own the hardware you just bought, so ...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Better approach

      But scanning local messaging using, say AI, might help detect children being grOOmed by pedofiles and SAve De chIlDreN or might detect tErRYwRFIsts FRoM ANotHeR 911 or drOOg dealers, dEAling drOOgs or somethink else bad.

      They pushed this on Apple FFS, Apple's scanning plans included spying on their customers messaging with the claimed intent that the customers might be grooming children and so needed to be watched at all times. Of course they just wanted to bypass end to end encryption, and needed the wedge issue to get the initial foot in Apple's door.

      So I wouldn't hold out hope for any kind of law that would close that door shut.

      Xioami put everything into their data-cloud, and require logins for everything, and I think they're best avoided not just for this, but because they try to turn their customers into datapoints.

      1. very angry man

        Re: Better approach

        Apple claimed that the customers would be grooming children and so Apple owners needed to be watched at all times.

  8. David Gale

    Did someone mention Google?

    Google maintains at least nine different blacklists that impact our lives, generally without input or authority from any outside advisory group, industry association or government agency. Google is not the only company suppressing content on the internet. Reddit has frequently been accused of banning postings on specific topics, and a recent report suggests that Facebook has been deleting conservative news stories from its newsfeed, a practice that might have a significant effect on public opinion – even on voting. Google, though, is currently the biggest bully on the block.

    1. sabroni Silver badge

      Re: Facebook has been deleting conservative news stories from its newsfeed

      That's a lovely soup of fact free supposition. Reddit has been accused, a recent report suggests something, a president claims he was cheated out of an election.

      Evidence is what's needed, not paranoia.

    2. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

      Re: Did someone mention Google?

      Something that came to light late last year: Google is now proactively editing information based on its preferred Messaging vs current political memes and its tagging of individuals.

      The Great Barrington Declaration came out. The left wingers I read were all ranting about its evilness and stupidity and right wingness. (It's a simple statement of commonsense response to epidemiological reality re Covid's exponential risk profile vs age. But it does not require a vaccine, and that apparently is currently a left wing requirement for Virtue. Or something.) The right wingers I read all mentioned that it was nonexistent if they searched for it on Google -- not in their search results no matter how many pages they went down. I tried it myself: it was #2 on my search results on Google, but via Tor was #1. So apparently Google tags me personally as very slightly right of centre.

      The point is: this is the OPPOSITE of how all these standard algorithms work. A right-wing-tagged story should have been ELEVATED for the right-wingers. That's how Google's bubble works, had always worked, on the principle of: more of the same, more of what you like. Passive heterodyning. Positive feedback. Now, they're proactively intruding on an activist basis. Negative feedback in the model for identified topics, and apparently asymmetric.

  9. pc-fluesterer.info
    Megaphone

    easy solution: Replace that crap by a clean custom-ROM

    Get rid of all that crap, bloatware, spyware, censorware.

    Install a custom-ROM such as LineageOS, available here: https://wiki.lineageos.org/devices/apollon

    There may be others; I didn't investigate further. LOS normally is sufficient. The one who needs GSF (Google Services Framework) installs OpenGApps or MicroG in addition.

    I do this since my first Android smartphone Sony Ericsson Xperia Pro (slider physical keyboard!) that came with Android 2.3 then, ten years ago. It got a CyanogenMod (predecessor of LOS) from me. I have since *improved* ;-) and/or revitalised many smartphones from OnePlus and Sony with LOS or derivatives. My standby old (2015) Xperia Z5 is out of support from Sony but still runs fine on an up-to-date LOS 17 (~Android 10).

    So this is my advice: Go for custom-ROM!

    1. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: easy solution: Replace that crap by a clean custom-ROM

      Sure, if you know such an option even exists (most people don't) and the bootloader isn't locked.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: easy solution: Replace that crap by a clean custom-ROM

      you can NOT install a custom rom on a majority of current handsets, regardless of their price (I would like to see a clear chart of what's rootable, by the way!) because the bootloader is locked, and it's locked because

      a) manufacturers don't want to be sued by some owners, who are idiots are look for easy money

      and

      b) banks don't want likewise result, so their apps won't run on 'compromised' (rooted) device

      and

      c) manufacturers see no gain, but loss of extra income (every little helps) when people start mass removing the 'partner' apps, pre-baked and unremovable - as happened on desktop market when people have finally realized the power of adblockers. Not on our handset, they won't!

      ...

      On one hand it baffles me that BILLIONS of people put up with paying serious money for a slab in their pocket that gives them only superficial control of 'their' phone. On the other hand... I look down at MY own (unrootable) handset, and then, in the mirror. Yes, I did allow myself to be fucked, albeit gently, unnoticeably, in exchange for 'conveniance'.

      1. pc-fluesterer.info
        Thumb Down

        root != unlock bootloader

        sad to see how widespread this misunderstanding still exists.

        With root you get administrator privileges inside you OS, be it stock android or a custom-ROM.

        You don't need root to flash a custom-ROM! For that you need to unlock the bootloader, for which in turn you need a code from the manufacturer. Some of those support that, some don't.

        The reason why they don't? My suspicion is that they try and achieve a vendor-lock-in.

    3. S4qFBxkFFg

      Re: easy solution: Replace that crap by a clean custom-ROM

      The article indicates the problem is with Xiaomi's firmware, which would not necessarily be affected by the installation of a custom ROM. It's difficult to be sure, as the distinction between the OS and firmware is extremely blurry on modern phones.

      Having said that, I have a Chinese phone running LineageOS, and it works very well for the most part (although when it finally dies, I'll probably get a PinePhone).

      1. gzgweilo

        Re: easy solution: Replace that crap by a clean custom-ROM

        "The article indicates the problem is with Xiaomi's firmware, which would not necessarily be affected by the installation of a custom ROM. "

        I unfortunately bought a Xiaomi Note 8 and after only 3 months or so ended up rooting it and putting on a custom Rom. The amount of phoning home is non stop.

        I also installed AFWall+ to stop parts of the Linux kernel and the Android system plus others from accessing the internet/data even though not allowed.......

  10. _LC_
    Thumb Down

    Lithuania: US puppet government

    Inhabitants: 2½

    Amount of inhabitants that will follow this ingenious advise: 0

    I'm sorry folks. This was entirely for OUR press. It wouldn't even surprise me, if the Lithuanians hadn't heard of it at all. ;-)

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

      Re: Lithuania: US puppet government

      You've never been to Lithuania, have you. I have. Be aware that the Baltic states are more digitally savvy than even San Francisco. Estonia in particular.

      Lithuania has the world's worst drivers, though. Think Vietnam market town but fast and aggressive and completely dismissive of consequences. The only place I've ever driven past an upsidedown semitrailer. With all the constant stream of traffic merely swerving around it casually. "Routine."

      1. A random security guy

        Re: Lithuania: US puppet government

        The Baltic states and Finland are extremely entrepreneurial. And they are definitely scared of Russia and can't even pretend to be pro-US. They just keep their heads down.

    3. A random security guy

      Re: Lithuania: US puppet government

      Are you disputing the facts or mud-slinging? Because no one (other than the manufacturers) has disputed the facts.

  11. ForthIsNotDead

    This is why...

    ... a Linux phone is going to be my next phone.

  12. HarryBl

    I've got a Xiaomi 10T Lite and it doesn't stop me searching for and reading about any of the search terms mentioned in the article.

    1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

      That's weird, an entirely blank post. Hey ElReg! Your forum's got a bug!

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