Taiwan clears Chinese smartphone-makers of privacy breach

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Taiwan clears Chinese smartphone-makers of privacy breach

National security fears averted.

Taiwanese regulators have cleared China's Xiaomi and other smartphone brands of breaching local data protection laws after national security concerns triggered the government to launch a probe in September.

The National Communications Commission, in a report concluding the investigation, said all the 12 brands it had tested, which include handsets sold by Apple, Samsung, LG and Sony, did not violate privacy laws.

James Lou, an NCC official who was involved in the testing, said the commission would however, request mobile phone makers make information transmission more secure.

The probe, which also involved Chinese handset makers Huawei and ZTE, was a reminder of the scrutiny Chinese technology firms are subject to abroad as governments become increasingly wary of potential cyber-security  threats from the world's second biggest economy.

It also highlights Taiwan's sensitivity to security issues involving China, its largest trading partner but one which has never renounced the use of force to take back what it deems a renegade province.

Privately owned Xiaomi, whose budget smartphones are popular throughout Asia, was previously accused of breaching data privacy. In August, the company apologised and said it would change a default feature after a Finnish security company said Xiaomi collected address book data without users' permission.

In September, Taiwan's government began performing independent tests on Xiaomi phones after media reports said that some models automatically send user data back to the firm's servers in mainland China.

The probe was then widened to include local and foreign handsets. The NCC report said handsets made by local firms HTC, Asustek, Far EasTone Telecommunications, Taiwan Mobile and US-based InFocus - whose handsets are made by Taiwan's Hon Hai Precision Industry - were also cleared of breaching the data protection  laws.

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