Monday, 23 October, 2017

OnePlus found collecting sensitive user data, including phone numbers

OnePlus OxygenOS phone data tracking raises privacy concerns OnePlus has been collecting very specific usage data
Terence Owen | 11 October, 2017, 13:07

The report comes after an investigation by Christopher Moore, a security blogger in the United Kingdom, said that his OnePlus 2 was transmitting data to OnePlus.

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

OnePlus has reportedly been collecting personal information of users and sending to company's server without their permission, according to a security researcher. Moreover, Mr. Moore was able to decrypt the data which revealed that his handset was sending time-stamped information about locks, unlocks, and unexpected reboots. After probing further, Moore wrote about it on his blog.

After the blog post, OnePlus responded to the allegations saying the device information being collected was to improve services and that users had the option to switch off the option of transmitting usage activity at any time.

The company says, "We securely transmit analytics in two different streams over HTTPS to an Amazon server".

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OnePlus acknowledged that all of this was actually happening, and told Android Authority that the reason behind it is to better the user experience and its (often criticised) after-sales support.

Moore's attempts to get details from OnePlus on how to disable the data tracking weren't fruitful, though he found a Reddit thread that led to the revelation that the data tracking is happening through OnePlus Device Manage and Device Manager Provider.

OnePlus has recently witnessed a slew of controversies, especially regarding its latest OnePlus 5 smartphone. The first stream is usage analytics, which we collect in order for us to more precisely fine tune our software according to user behaviour. OxygenOS, which is company's operating software that runs on top of Android, is said to be facilitating data transmission without a user's prior permission.

A Twitter user, Jakub Czekanski, said that the data transmission can be "permanently disabled". We are yet to hear from the company on this. But, notes the company, this is to understand the problems that the users are facing and solve them in the forthcoming update. There is also no clarity on how switching off this functionality permanently would affect the performance of the device and users are advised to tread with caution in choosing to disable it.

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