OnePlus Phones Collecting Private User Data Without Consent

OnePlus OxygenOS phone data tracking raises privacy concerns

Chinese smartphone-maker OnePlus, which is flying high with the overwhelming response to the flagship OnePlus 5, has now come under criticism over the pilferage of user-details to a remote server.

If you are using a OnePlus smartphone, you may not be aware that the phone manufacturer is quietly collecting a lot of personal information about you that you may not wish to otherwise disclose. In his blog, Moore says: "They're collecting timestamped metrics on certain events, some of which I understand - from a development point of view, wanting to know about abnormal reboots seems legitimate - but the screen on/off and unlock activities feel excessive". At least these are anonymized, right? The company is collecting IMEI numbers, MAC addresses, mobile network names and IMSI prefixes, serial numbers, and more important data on a regular basis. It turns out, OnePlus is transferring this info along with your phone's serial number, meaning that your activity is personally identifiable.

After decrypting the data, he figured out that OxygenOS's analytics is sending user data regularly to the OnePlus's AWS servers.

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OnePlus said that the analytics were being sent to an Amazon server through a secure HTTPS channel and it helps them fine tune their software.

Meanwhile, OnePlus has given a statement to Android Police, where it has said that a majority of the data collection can be avoided by following this path: "Settings-Advanced-Join user experience program". "The second stream (tracking of locking and unlocking) is device information, which we collect to provide better after-sales support". This is a bad look for OnePlus, and it is equally concerning that the company does not really consider this to be a big deal. He discovered that his OnePlus 2 device was sending data to a HTTPS domain, which was transmitted to Amazon Web Services and belongs to OnePlus (open.oneplus.net domain). 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. One Twitter user pointed out it was be stopped completely by removing the OnePlus Device Manager app without root via Android Debug Bridge by using your computer. However, it seems OnePlus has been recording unnecessary information like when a person locks or unlocks their phone, complete with a time-stamp.

We are yet to hear from OnePlus announcing a fix on this issue.

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