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No evidence of censorship tools on Xiaomi phones, says German watchdog (Updated)

Update: Xiaomi has welcomed the results of a German investigation into Lithuania's claims.
By
January 14, 2022
A photo of the back of the Mi 11X with Xiaomi's logo visible
Calvin Wankhede / Android Authority
TL;DR
  • A German IT watchdog group didn’t find any evidence of alleged Xiaomi censorship tools on its phones.
  • The group says it doesn’t need to investigate this matter further.
  • The investigation began after Lithuania accused Xiaomi of having the ability to censor its phones.

Updated: January 14, 2022 (7:40 AM ET): Xiaomi has now responded after a German watchdog revealed that it found no evidence of censorship tools on Xiaomi phones.

Xiaomi is pleased that, the results of the investigation conducted by the German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) published yesterday, confirm our commitment to operate transparently, responsibly and with the privacy and security of our customers as a top priority.

The German investigation followed a claim by Lithuania that Xiaomi phones came with censorship tools based on keyword filters. This claim came during a period of rising tensions between Lithuania and China.

Original article: January 13, 2022 (3:24 PM ET): In September 2021, the country of Lithuania levied some heavy accusations against Chinese smartphone manufacturer Xiaomi. The allegations surrounded supposed code within Xiaomi smartphones that could allow for censorship of certain terms. In a statement, Xiaomi denied ever doing this, but didn’t deny having the ability to do it.

See also: These are the best Xiaomi phones you can buy

Now, a German watchdog group hired to look into the matter has closed the case. The group found no evidence of any Xiaomi censorship tools within its devices.

“As a result, [we were] unable to identify any anomalies that would require further investigation or other measures,” the German group said in a statement (via Reuters).

The brief statement makes it pretty clear the group found nothing to back up Lithuania’s allegations. As a reminder, those allegations centered on supposed keyword lists within Xiaomi software. These lists contained terms sensitive to some Chinese citizens, such as “free Tibet,” “long live Taiwan independence,” and “democracy movement.” Theoretically, the software could identify these keywords and remove or otherwise manipulate them. However, it looks like that wasn’t actually happening.

We’ve reached out to Xiaomi for a statement on this news. The company did not get back to us before publishing, but we will update this article if and when it does.