Lithuania asks users to drop Chinese smartphone over ‘built-in censorship tool’

Lithuania asks users to drop Chinese smartphone over ‘built-in censorship tool’

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LITHUANIA: After finding an inbuilt censorship tool in the Chinese-manufactured phone, the Lithuanian government has urged owners of the phones to replace them.

This comes after a report from the country’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) said that a popular Chinese-manufactured phone has a built-in censorship tool that can blacklist search terms on the web.

“It is very, very worrying that there is a built-in censorship tool and of keywords, which filters or could filter your search on the web,” Lithuanian Vice Defense Minister Margiris Abukevicius told Voice of America (VOA).

China is known for cultivating nationalism to garner support for its governance. It has now adopted a zero-tolerance approach towards online discussion threads.

According to the researchers, the blacklist function was turned off on the Xiaomi phone sold in Europe, but it can be activated remotely. The list of blocked search terms appears to be continually updated, the report said. Similar inconsistencies were detected in Huawei.

“We clearly saw that all of those keywords are politically motivated,” Abukevicius said. “Terms such as Tibet, Taiwan, democracy, US, and some companies like yours [Voice of America], are mentioned in that list. And they are adding [words] not only in Chinese, they are also adding words in Latin [script].”

As a result of these findings, Lithuania has told government workers to get rid of the Chinese phones.

“On the basis of national security, really, we are looking for ways to protect our state institutions and institutions working in national security and give them a chance to only work with trusted suppliers. When it comes to consumers, we are giving recommendations, of course, you know, to really avoid using cloud services, avoid using some applications, Chinese-made applications,” Abukevicius said.

Recently, ties between the two countries have withered after Lithuania’s decision to enhance ties with Taiwan despite threats from China, reported Focus Taiwan.

Last month, members of the European Parliament extended support for Lithuania on the matter and more than 60 members of the European Parliament voiced their support through an open letter. Members of the European Parliament including Petras Austrevicius from Lithuania, Reinhard Butikofer from Germany and members from 20 countries and five different political groups expressed their solidarity with the Baltic state of Lithuania and Taiwan by initiating an open letter, at a time of growing threats from China, reported Focus Taiwan. (ANI)

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