October 27, 2021

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Study: Huawei, Samsung, Realme and Xiaomi collect data on a large scale via Android – Computer – News

Researchers from the University of Edinburgh have stated that Android versions of Huawei, Samsung, Realme, Xiaomi and LineageOS collect unwanted data from users. The data is shared with Google, Microsoft and Facebook, who have system apps pre-installed on the operating system.

According to researchers Several studies have already been done on data collection by applications, but not on user data collection by operating systems themselves. That’s why take a closer look at European Android devices from Huawei, Samsung, Realme and Xiaomi, as well as devices running on LineageOS and /e/OS.

At the start of the study, they set up the devices so that no diagnostic information was shared with the manufacturers, and they didn’t create an account with the device manufacturer. Despite all this, the researchers note that a “large amount” of data is still being collected. For example, imei numbers, serial numbers, advertising identifiers, information about installed applications, and details about the use of such applications are collected. “You can compare it a little to cookies,” the study says. Xiaomi will be the most detailed, according to the researchers. The Chinese company tracks how long a user has been using a particular app, and is said to do so for every screen in those apps.

In addition, Samsung, Xiaomi, Realme and Google combine Long-lived device identifiersAccording to the researchers, device identifiers associated with a device for a long time, along with different advertising identifiers, undermine resetting these identifiers. It appears that “when the user resets the advertising ID, it can be reassociated with the device”. Huawei will not collect any of this data.

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Manufacturers are never the only ones collecting data on their devices: multiple parties work on every device, but Google is available on almost every Android variant. In addition to Samsung and Google, Microsoft also collects data on Samsung devices. With Xiaomi devices, Google joins the Chinese manufacturer in collecting data and also via Facebook. In Realme we see Google and the Chinese company Heytap. In Huawei, researchers have found Google, Microsoft, Daily Motion and Qihoo 360.

Many of these third parties can collect data through pre-installed apps that cannot be removed. According to the researchers, the collected data will be sent to servers in Europe, and the researchers found that Xiaomi is the only one sending data to servers in Singapore and Samsung forwards its data to servers in the United States.

They state that connectivity to the servers is expected, but involves unexpectedly noticeable amounts and that there is also no opt-out regarding data collection.

Researchers from the University of Edinburgh also examined whether the devices were working descent employment / and / OS Data collected. LineageOS only shared the data with Google, but it should be noted that OpenGApps researchers installed On devices running LineageOS. The privacy-focused custom rom e/OS does not collect user data according to researchers

Update, 9:40 PM: Added information about using OpenGApps with LineageOS. thanks for the c0nscript.

University of Edinburgh