Beware! Xiaomi’s Mint Browser is tracking your searches even in Incognito Mode

Xiaomi is a well-known brand in the Asian markets, especially in India. One of the reasons that Xiaomi smartphones are popular in the Indian market is its budget-friendly price and competitive hardware. Xiaomi achieves this by keeping their profit margin low. Whatever money Xiaomi loses on each smartphone, it tries to balance it out with user data and its online services.

This is not a new strategy. In fact, this is how Google and Amazon operate. Companies offer their product for a low price and compensate for that loss by either collecting user data or offering additional services.

What’s more interesting is the kind of data Xiaomi is collecting.

Mint Browser – Collecting User Data?

Mint Browser - Request Data

Mint Browser – Request Data (Source @cybergibbons)

Based on the recent report published by Forbes, Mint Browser which is bundled with MIUI on Xiaomi phones is collecting detailed user analytics data. Some of the apps and browsers already do this but what is more surprising is that the Mint Browser isn’t honoring the Incognito Mode. It was found that the browser was not only sending the user data but also sending user’s search query and search engine settings to Xiaomi servers in China.

This directly defeats the purpose of Incognito Mode.

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Xiaomi has responded to this report and stated that there are several “inaccuracies and misinterpretations” about the way Xiaomi collects data. The statement further reads that the data is being collected only after the user’s permission has been acquired and it can never be used to identify users individually. In other words, it is aggregate data.

The report goes into the detailed analysis showing us the full JSON data which is being sent over by the Mint Browser. One thing that stands out is the UUID field. The unique user id field didn’t change throughout multiple requests.

The company hasn’t put out any statement about whether they will stop doing this or not. There was an update that was pushed to the Mint Browser yesterday but according to the researcher, this update doesn’t seem to be addressing the issue.

At this point in time, I would like to caution our readers and suggest using an alternate browser such as Firefox or DuckDuckGo.

Additional Source – Twitter user @Cybergibbons

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