Saturday, August 05, 2017

Would you buy an East German smart phone?

So, as Americans we're pretty bent out of shape (or at least a sizable fraction of us are) over the snooping being done by our government's intelligence and law enforcement agencies in the name of The War on a Noun. We believe we've got the First Amendment right to prank call Mahmoud's House of Semtex in Khartoum as many times as we want, and a Fourth Amendment expectation that the government needs a pretty specific reason and a judge's permission to count how many times that number shows up on our phone bill.

It's easy to forget that the majority of our consumer electronics come from a place with very different rules to the U.S. of A.. Half of what goes on on the nightly news or the pages of any political magazine here could get people thrown in in jail on the other side of the Great Firewall of China. I don't know how you say "Reasonable Expectation of Privacy" in China, but Google Translate gave me this:
So stuff like this should probably come as no surprise.
"By forgetting to remove this code on phones being sold to the US, Blu has exported the surveillance that is typical in China to buyers that are unaware elsewhere in the world," Dan Guido, CEO of security firm Trail of Bits, told Ars. The data being surveilled includes all the most sensitive information that a person would produce with their phone. Amazon is fully justified in their decision, and I encourage them to crack down further on similar privacy issues with Android phones sold on their website."
It's a complicated world, and it's not getting any simpler.