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“AR GALITE MANE IŠGIRSTI DABAR?” This Lithuanian query of “Can you hear me now?” is most appropriate in response to news reported by the Voice of America, October 1, 2021: “Lithuania Urges Users to Ditch Chinese Smartphone Over ‘Built-in Censorship Tool.’ ”
Henry Ridgwell reports, “A popular Chinese-manufactured phone has a built-in censorship tool that can blacklist search terms on the web, according to research by the Lithuanian government which is urging owners of the phones to replace them.”
Ridgwell continues, “The Lithuanian Ministry of Defense analyzed three popular Chinese-made phones currently sold in Europe: the Xiaomi Mi 10T 5G; the Huawei P40 5G; the OnePlus 8T 5G. It reported finding a censorship tool built into the Xiaomi phone that can block certain search terms, including ‘Long live Taiwan’s independence,’ ‘Free Tibet,’ ‘Democratic Movement,’ and ‘Voice of America.’ ”
“It is very, very worrying that there is a built-in censorship tool and of keywords, which filters or could filter your search on the web,” Lithuanian Vice Defense Minister Margiris Abukevicius told VOA.
By the way, I recall that Edmundas Simanaitis (a possible kin?) served as Deputy Minister of Lithuania’s Ministry of National Defense, 1997–2000. This journalist, Freedom Fighter, and ex-political prisoner of the Soviets died in 2017 at age 87.
The Xiaomi Smartphone. The VOA report continues: “Xiaomi is the most popular smartphone brand in Europe. The Lithuanian researchers said the blacklist function was turned off on the Xiaomi phone sold in Europe, but it can be activated remotely. The list of blocked search terms appears to be continually updated. There were 449 words or phrases on the blacklist in April 2021. By September, that number had tripled to 1,376.”
“We clearly saw that all of those key words are politically motivated,” Abukevicius said. “Terms such as Tibet, Taiwan, democracy, U.S., and some companies like yours [Voice of America], are mentioned in that list. And they are adding [words] not only in Chinese, they are also adding words in Latin [script].”
VoA says, “German security services also have begun a technical examination of the Xiaomi phone. Xiaomi did not respond to VOA requests for comment. The firm said this week it was engaging an independent expert to assess the findings.”
The Huawei Smartphone. VoA also reports, “The Lithuanian researchers found the Huawei P40 5G model collected users’ data—including how long they spent using the apps—and stored it on servers outside the European Union, beyond the jurisdiction of the EU’s strict data laws.”
“… Huawei’s official app store, called AppGallery,” VoA writes, “directed users to apps containing malware. A portion of the mobile applications contained on the application distribution platforms are imitations of the original applications, with malicious functionality or virus infestation; such applications can be downloaded and installed by the user on the mobile phone, thereby jeopardizing the security of the device and the data contained in it.”
VoA says, “Lithuania has told government workers to get rid of the Xiaomi and Huawei phones. Abukevicius told VOA that other countries should take note of the research.”
A Parable Here. According to statista.com, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) comprises only 6.73 percent of the Chinese population. It is the country’s sole governing party. ds