Science

OnePlus admits to collecting private data without user permission

OnePlus admits to collecting private data without user permission”

Unfortunately the same can not be said for OnePlus, where in a report by software engineer Christopher Moore (via Android Police), he has found that OnePlus has been collecting identifiable analytics data from its users, such as IMEI numbers, MAC addresses, mobile network names, IMSI prefixes, and serial numbers, just to name a few.

Another workaround, which is bit tedious, requires users enable USB debugging via device's Settings (under Developer options), connecting the device to PC via USB and install the Android Bridge software, reports a forum on Hacker News.

In an article published on his blog, Moore demonstrated how personal information coming from his phone was being transferred to OnePlus, without him having given his consent. He noticed an unfamiliar domain while completing the SANS Holiday Hack Challenge and chose to further examine it.

Device information like Phone's IMEI, serial number, cellular number, MAC address, mobile network name, IMSI prefix, and wireless network EESID and BSSID to user data like the reboot, charging, screen timestamps, as well as application timestamps, were being harvested and accessed by OnePlus.

Moore revealed that the data collection is tied to the OnePlus Device Manager and OnePlus Device Manager Provider. Using the the on-device key, Moore was able to see all of the data being sent back to OnePlus' AWS servers.

@chrisdcmoore I've read your article about OnePlus Analytics. It turns out that the Chinese company has been collecting massive amounts of user data without telling anyone about it.

In a statement provided to Android Police, OnePlus said, "We securely transmit analytics in two different streams over HTTPS to an Amazon server". Its failure to provide adequate device support has brought down the brand with heavy criticism from its users in the past year or two. "We do not share any analytics data with outside parties", the company said in a statement. At any rate, the irony here is that OnePlus is breaching its users' privacy to provide better after-sales support.

OnePlus says users can block transmission of usage activity disabling the option in Settings Advanced Join user experience program. While providing justification for the unauthorized data collection as a means of fine-tuning its software and gathering after-sales information, the company confirmed that this part of the phone can't be completely disabled.

"Collecting basic telemetry data is quite a standard-fare but the problem arises when the data is precise enough to identify a user based on the information collected".



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