Now, a new related report by security firm F-Secure has again raised privacy concerns as it has highlighted that the Xiaomi Redmi 1S was sending details such as the handset's IMEI number, phone number, contacts stored and text messages exchanged to a server named api.account.xiaomi.com.
Following security concerns, Xiaomi has now finally decided to make its offending service, MIUI Cloud Messaging, an opt-in one. It will be no longer be set as an automatic process by default for handset users. The company also revealed that it released an over-the-air (OTA) update on Sunday that will add an extra layer of security by encrypting phone numbers whenever they are sent to cloud messaging servers.
Xiaomi's Hugo Barra, Vice President, Xiaomi Global on Sunday announced the news in a Google+ post titled, "MIUI Cloud Messaging and Privacy," and also tried to address privacy concerns about Xiaomi smartphones raised by some recent reports.
Barra said, "Xiaomi offers a free service called Cloud Messaging as part of its MIUI operating system. This service allows MIUI users to exchange text messages with each other free of SMS charges, by routing messages via IP instead of using the carrier's SMS gateway."
About F-Secure's claim that the Redmi 1S was sending information like IMEI, phone number, contacts and texts, Barra explained, "When a Mi phone is turned on, the cloud messaging service is automatically activated through IP communication protocol with Xiaomi servers, in order to provide the user with the free text messaging capability. MIUI Cloud Messaging uses SIM and device identifiers (phone number, IMSI and IMEI) for routing messages between two users, in the same way as some of the most popular messaging services."
Further Barra said, "As we believe it is our top priority to protect user data and privacy, we have decided to make MIUI Cloud Messaging an opt-in service and no longer automatically activate users. After the upgrade, new users or users who factory reset their devices can enable the service by visiting Settings > Mi Cloud > Cloud Messaging from their home screen or Settings > Cloud Messaging inside the Messaging app - these are also the places where users can turn off cloud messaging."
You can read Hugo Barra's complete Google+ post here: