December 30, 2014 / 7:19 AM / 3 years ago

Taiwan clears Xiaomi, other smartphone brands of breaching data privacy

A security guard stands in front of a screen showing Xiaomi mobile phones ahead of the launching ceremony of Xiaomi Phone 4, in Beijing, July 22, 2014.Jason Lee

TAIPEI (Reuters) - Taiwanese regulators cleared on Tuesday China's Xiaomi Inc [XTC.UL] 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 Inc, Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, LG Electronics Inc and Sony Corp, did not violate the laws.

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

The probe, which also involved Chinese handset makers Huawei Technologies Co Ltd and ZTE Corp, 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 apologized 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 Corp, Asustek Computer Inc, Far EasTone Telecommunications Co Ltd, Taiwan Mobile Co Ltd and U.S.-based InFocus Corp, whose handsets are made by Taiwan's Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd, were also cleared of breaching the data protection laws.

Editing by Miral Fahmy

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