OnePlus reportedly mining personal data without user approval

11 October, 2017, 14:37 | Author: Oscar Goodwin
  • OnePlus OxygenOS phone data tracking raises privacy concerns

What's really baffling is that the Chinese company is already aware of privacy issue, as a year ago security researcher Christopher Moore discovered his OnePlus 2 smartphone was sending data to a HTTPS domain belonging to OnePlus without user's consent. He observed that there was an unusual amount of incoming and outgoing internet traffic from his device to open.oneplus.net, a server owned by OnePlus.

According to a post on Christopher Moore's blog, OnePlus is collecting sensitive private data like IMEI numbers, mobile network names and IMSI prefixes, MAC addresses, and more. He also claims that his OnePlus 2 was sending information about locks and unlocks and unexpected reboots.

That a phone collects certain information about usage is not particularly unusual - it helps to identify problems and speed up software development.

OnePlus seems to have landed in a new soup, as the company is being accused of collecting unanonymised analytics data from its users.

He discovered that the data being sent to OnePlus' servers included the phone's IMEI number, the phone number, MAC addresses, mobile network names and IMSI prefixes, info on Wi-Fi connection and the phone's serial number.

The data they are collecting includes things like how many times you unlocks your device, what apps you use and more.

"Those are timestamp ranges (again, unix epoch in milliseconds) of the when I opened and closed applications on my phone". We however would not recommend the second solution because it would hamper some features of your OnePlus phone. The first stream is usage analytics, which we collect in order for us to more precisely fine-tune our software according to user behavior.

OnePlus told Android Police, "We securely transmit analytics in two different streams over HTTPS to an Amazon server". The representative didn't provide an explanation as to why OnePlus didn't simply have users opt-in for this instead of having it covertly happening in the background. It is upto the user to realise how proper is the company's response. This transmission of usage activity can be turned off by navigating to "Settings" - "Advanced" - "Join user experience program". Meanwhile, you can use the above methods to stop the collection and transmission of data.

Interestingly, Twitter user Jakub Czekanski seems to have found a fix to permanently disable the data transmission.

Upon deeper inspection, he uncovered that OnePlus had gone as far as to log every time an app was opened on his smartphone, along with the previously mentioned data. So you just hook your phone to the PC, and run the following adb command: pm uninstall -k -user 0 pkg.

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