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Xiaomi is updating its confusing browser privacy setting, again

A new Xiaomi browser update to address data collection concerns hasn't quite gone to plan.

Published onMay 20, 2020

Xiaomi Logo on the back of a smartphone

Remember how Xiaomi was in hot water recently when its questionable browser data collection practices were uncovered? The company quickly addressed the concerns and added a toggle in its browser settings to clarify exactly what happens when using incognito mode. Unfortunately, the wording Xiaomi used led everyone — us included — to understand the exact opposite of what was actually happening. That mistake is now being fixed, again.

Read more: Is selling your privacy for a cheaper phone really a good idea?

Here’s the backstory real quick: In the wake of the scandal, Xiaomi added a toggle for incognito mode in the Mi and Mint Browsers. The “enhanced incognito mode” toggle says: “Aggregated data stats won’t be uploaded when incognito mode is on.” This might lead you to believe that flipping the toggle on would make this statement true. But this is not the case.

When you flip the toggle on, the text changes to say “Improve your user experience by uploading aggregated data stats when incognito mode is on.” What we realized on a call with Xiaomi was that the wording reflects the current state of the toggle, not a true/false statement you change by flipping the switch.

You might assume we simply read it wrong, but a quick Google shows everyone else read it the same way we did. Xiaomi is now pushing another new update to make the wording clearer, which is important when talking about privacy and data collection.

What’s it say now?

In the new update being pushed to Google Play as we speak, the “enhanced incognito mode” toggle is now called “Help us improve Mi/Mint Browser.”

“Turn on to share usage stats with us when incognito mode is on,” reads the accompanying text, and it doesn’t change when you flip the toggle on or off. Check out two screenshots of the newly updated toggle below, shared by Xiaomi ahead of the updates appearing in the Play Store.

The new text applies to version 12.2.4 of the Mi Browser and version 3.4.6 of the Mint Browser. Xiaomi told Android Authority that the new versions have been submitted to the Play Store for approval.

Just to be clear, keeping the toggle off regardless of the version you’re using means your data won’t be collected in incognito mode. The Chinese brand has previously claimed that your data will be collected in an anonymized manner, but a recent report has revealed how anonymous data collection isn’t so anonymous after all. So regardless of how it might be used to improve your browsing experience, you might want to keep data collection disabled.

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