OnePlus Phones Collecting Private User Data Without Consent

OnePlus Phones Collecting Private User Data Without Consent
BenjaminNelan / Pixabay

One of the worst fears that people have been facing over the past few years is the violation of their privacy. There is hardly a day without reports of gadgets from some of the biggest tech firms collecting the personal data of the users. So, today there are reports that OnePlus phones are collecting personal information of smartphone owners.

According to security researcher Chris Moore, OnePlus phones are found to collect the data regarding when and how often the user unlocks the phone, apps used and the Wi-Fi networks frequently used. While some of it might sound normal, the Chinese manufacturer is collecting this whole data along with the smartphone serial number. This means the company can always trace an individual user.

Moore claimed that his OnePlus 2 smartphone was sending data to a HTTPS domain belonging to OnePlus without his permission. Further, the expert noted that the data, which OnePlus has been transferring to the domain includes information about the screen, abnormal reboots, device unlock events, IMPEI, Phone numbers, Mac addresses, mobile network names, IMSI prefixes, as well as the wireless network ESSID and BSSID.

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“Those are timestamp ranges (again, unix epoch in milliseconds) of when I opened and closed applications on my phone,” Moore said in a blog post.

OnePlus openly admitted that it is collecting the data, but said the data is being collected to enhance its software. In a statement, the company said, “We securely transmit analytics in two different streams over HTTPS to an Amazon server.” The first stream is the usage analytics, which is collected by the company to upgrade the software based on user behavior. OnePlus stated that a user could deactivate the transfer by tapping Settings -> Advanced -> Join user experience program. About its second stream, the company said it is done to offer better after-sales support.

A Twitter user, Jakub Czekanski, claims to know the trick to stop the data transmission permanently from OnePlus phones. “I’ve read your article about OnePlus Analytics. Actually, you can disable it permanently: pm uninstall -k –user 0 pkg,” Czekanski tweeted. Czekanski notes that a user just needs to remove the ability through the ADB tool and USB debugging. However, users will be at risk of losing the OnePlus Device manager app in case they opt for Czekanski’s method.

It is not the first time OnePlus is surrounded by a controversy. Earlier this year, the Chinese company was accused of meddling with the OnePlus 5’s benchmark scores on Geekbench 4. At the time, OnePlus completely denied doing any such thing.

Meanwhile, pictures of the OnePlus 5T have surfaced online, and the phone is expected to launch next month. Earlier, it was reported that OnePlus might not release the Oneplus 5T as Qualcomm has no new chip to offer for now. Reportedly, OnePlus 5T will have an edge-to-edge screen to stand against bigger rivals like iPhone X, Galaxy Note 8, and Google Pixel 2.

OnePlus 5 has been a successful product, and launching 5T just four months after may not be a wise decision. OnePlus, however, had done this before when it launched the OnePlus 3T within a half year of launching OnePlus 3.

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