Facebook was caught this year in the biggest data breaching scandal ever. A new report by The Wall Street Journal states that cheap and affordable smartphones in developing countries, including India, come with apps that sell user data.
According to the report (via Financial Express), Chinese smartphone SingTech P10 has been sending user data like the location, to a Taiwan-based advertising firm, General Mobile Corp. (GMobi). SingTech P10 is a budget smartphone priced at USD 89 or Rs 6,200. This smartphone comes pre-loaded with an app by GMobi which allows access to user data. The app is reported to have siphoned user data from users mostly in Myanmar and Cambodia.
The report further states that the app is available in some smartphones in Brazil. It also points out that some phones manufactured in India and China also have the app pre-installed.
In response to this discovery, GMobi said that the company targets ads to users with the collected data. The company also said that permission was granted by the manufacturer with whom data is shared. GMobi said users need to “suffer a little for better targeting ads” if they want access to free internet services.
Other than SingTech smartphone, companies like Huawei, Xiaomi and BLU have been listed by the company to have partnerships with. These companies have however denied any participation with GMobi.
WSJ cites another company involved in accessing user data which is based out of India. MoMagic is said to have provided firmware software updates for smartphone companies like Xiaomi, Micromax, Intex, Panasonic and Sony. Of the lot, Xiaomi has again denied working with MoMagic while Intex has admitted to using its updates, but not in collecting user data.
Companies listed above are popular in the budget smartphone segment in India especially Xiaomi, Micromax, and Intex. These companies were not available for comment on these claims immediately.