Xiaomi, a prominent Asian smartphone manufacturer, has stirred controversy by blocking the installation of the popular messaging app Telegram on devices using its MIUI system and firmware interface. MIUI, an Android-based operating system developed by Xiaomi, introduced a new security feature with MIUI 13 in 2022, aiming to identify and prevent the installation of malicious applications on devices.
While this move is intended to enhance user security, it has sparked suspicions among users that it might be an attempt by Xiaomi, possibly in collaboration with the Chinese Community Party (CCP), to monitor user activities and censor applications.
This security feature gained further attention due to its previous blockage of applications that allowed users to modify network settings beyond default configurations. If an app is considered malicious or dangerous, MIUI removes it from the device and prevents installation. Recent reports indicate that Xiaomi’s MIUI system is now categorizing Telegram as a dangerous app in China.
Telegram users have encountered a warning message when attempting to install the app, cautioning against using it due to potential risks like fraudulent activities and unwarranted consumption.
Chinese mobile developer Hikari Calyx confirmed the accuracy of reports regarding MIUI’s flagging of Telegram and other applications. This move raises concerns about the broader implications for free speech and personal privacy, aligning with the Chinese government’s history of controlling digital communication spaces and restricting access to global platforms.
While China has a track record of imposing restrictions on various foreign websites and social media platforms, including Facebook and Twitter, the labeling of a widely used messaging app like Telegram as “dangerous” underscores an escalated effort to exert control over digital communication channels.